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Re/Cor Recycled Nylon 6,6 Goes High Performance, Low Impact

CORDURA® brand wants its recycled nylon to work hard, but tread lightly.

Already known for its durable nylon that has helped shape performance-demanding categories like workwear, outdoor garments, and bags and backpacks for over 55 years, INVISTA’s CORDURA® fabric is going one step further. As part of its new CORDURA® re/cor™ sustainability platform, CORDURA® Advanced Fabrics recently introduced its new CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66 portfolio, urging the industry to ‘Expect More, Waste Less.’

The new CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66 technology is “durable, responsible and innovated to last.’  In terms of quantifiable benefits versus Virgin Nylon 6,6, the production of CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66 decreases greenhouse gas emissions by 83 percent, consumes 82 percent less energy and uses 57 percent less water.

“That really was one of the key milestones for us to benchmark—looking at how our new high tenacity RN66 fabric performs versus equivalent INVISTA™ virgin nylon 6,6,’” said Cindy McNaull, CORDURA® business development director. “That was the biggest litmus test. Ourselves.”

The launch is specifically related to heavier denier RN66 applications, for example, bags and packs, footwear, outerwear and garment reinforcements for heightened durability in high-abrasion areas.

CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66 is made from 100 percent pre-consumer fiber material that is GRS (Global Recycled Standard) certified. INVISTA™ is a major manufacturer of fibers used for air bags and synthetic carpets, and for CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66, this provides a strong base to pull from in terms of pre-consumer or post-industrial feedstock.

“From a performance perspective—and compared to virgin 6,6—there was really very little difference in abrasion and only a minimal drop in tensile and tear strength. Plus, it’s made in a more sustainable and less impactful way,” said McNaull.

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There’s no limitation on the color palettes that RN66 can achieve opposite virgin nylon. Currently available in 36 on-trend colors for Fall/Winter 2023, the new recycled nylon 6,6 collection is a mix of bright, optimistic shades (“for coming out of the pandemic”) as well as cooler, traditional CORDURA® brand colors. “We also wanted some technological and contemporary weaves that were very bold. Colors and constructions that depict hope and enlightenment—a look to the future.”

Many of the company’s supply chain partners are already familiar with its GRS-certified, post-consumer recycled polyester (RPET) and pre-consumer recycled nylon 6 (RN6) qualifying yarns, both of which are being folded into the CORDURA® re/cor™ line.

In its current state, the CORDURA® re/cor™ platform encompasses RPET, RN6, and now RN66. It also has room to grow. “On the obvious level, re/cor evokes the word recycle. But there’s so much more in the name if you think about it—regenerative, renewed, revitalized,” said McNaull. “We are on a stewardship journey. With the debut of CORDURA® re/cor™, we’re starting with recycled products first, with additional ESG initiatives to follow.”

Additionally, INVISTA is also incredibly proud of its solution-dyed nylon fabric, CORDURA® Truelock™ Fabric. Created from INVISTA nylon 6,6 multi-filament fibers incorporating locked-in color at the molten polymer extrusion level, CORDURA® Truelock™ Fabric offers significant stewardship benefits such as reduced water and energy consumption as well as fewer CO2 emissions from the manufacturing process.*

Brand buy in

CORDURA® brand is long known for its fashion brand collaborations, and it’s with that in mind that CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66 got off to such a strong start. CORDURA® has partnered with San Francisco-based bag company Black Ember, with many more brand partnerships already in the works, something unusual for a new fiber introduction.

Cordura RN66 Black Ember
San Francisco-based bag company Black Ember is using CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66. Courtesy

“What’s been unique for us is that usually when we launch a new fiber, it can often take two to three seasons for fabric developments to reach the brand customer sampling stage. But with CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66, we were able to rapidly accelerate innovation with both our fabric mill partner (Dong Jin) and brand customers—working together to iterate, develop and test.”

CORDURA®’s ethos has always been summed up in the belief that “Sustainability Begins With Products That Last™, and this latest product line “challenges the throwaway mentality within the textile industry,” added McNaull. “The future of innovation is collaboration. We aren’t on this journey alone. We are committed to working with our network of authorized mills and brands, building relationships to develop products that are more responsible.  Stay tuned for further collaboration announcements in the months to come.”

To learn more about CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66, click here

*2013 LCA study based on the average comparison of conventional level acid Piece Dyeing to SDN at 3 independent/3rd party dyeing and finishing mills.