Those signs were never more evident than at the Kingpins New York show that ended its two-day run on Thursday. Virtually every denim mill, vertical manufacturer or fiber firm exhibiting at Pier 36 featured and touted special features such as performance-related additives or weaving techniques to set themselves apart—or at least keep them in the game.
Most prominent were the many specialty fibers from Invista’s Lycra brand, which was featured in nearly every company’s assortment. Lenzing’s Tencel brand was also prevalent in many lines as a fashionable and sustainable aspect.
This includes Lycra’s dual FX, XFit and Tough Max technologies, as well as Invista’s Coolmax and Thermolite temperature control solutions.
Lycra dualFX technology gives denim fabrics durable shape retention and the look and feel of natural denim, while its X Fit provides stretch in the fabric length and width for high performance and Tough Max offers stretch denim fabrics with more than twice the strength of typical all-cotton denim.
Discussing Invista’s recently released study, “Around the Denim World in 80s Days,” Jean Hegedus, global segment director for denim, said, “We use this and other consumer studies to fill out our innovation pipeline. For example, study participants favored our Lycra dualFX technology the most. They loved the fit, felt it would last, and saw the benefit of having two different types of Lycra fiber in the garment — they believed that made the garment better quality.”
For instance, the biggest frustration women shared was with fit, with 79 percent of U.S. women saying it is difficult to find jeans that fit everywhere on their bodies. Only 42 percent of U.S. females surveyed describe shopping for jeans as “easy.”
“The results reinforced what we found in our earlier quantitative research – that by providing the consumer with a garment that can help solve their particular issues, we can drive interest, satisfaction, and ultimately, purchase intent,” Hegedus said.
Jack Mathews, director of sales and marketing at Artistic Denim Mills, said, “It’s all about shape and great recovery.”
ADM’s key fabrics and jeans centered around bi-stretch goods that move in the warp and weft thanks to dualFX, as well as denim that uses Cool Max for temperature control and wearability.
All offerings at ADM, a vertical manufacturer based in Karachi, Pakistan, feature special characteristics because, Mathews added, “It’s all about differentiated product to drive sales and meet brand and consumer needs.”
That product differentiation is taken seriously at Cone Denim, where an array of specialized fabrics have been developed.
Kara Nicholas, vice president of product design and marketing at Cone Denim, noted that it all stems back to the S Gene, created in 2007 and considered a forerunner in denim fabric technology. The dual core technology uses spandex and a continuous filament wrapped in spun cotton to provide a soft hand and stretch performance.
Cone has since taken the S Gene to the next level with Level II, 25 percent more stretch power and snapback effect, resulting in greater shape conformity and comfort, as well as ConeFlex, which utilizes S Gene technology in warp and weft for four-way advanced stretch for stronger recovery, less shrinkage and better shape retention.
On Friday, Invista and Cone got together in a deal that saw Invista purchase Cone Denim’s and parent International Textile Group’s dual core patent portfolio. The patent estate covers a broad variety of dual core yarns, fabrics, and garments made from those fabrics and sold in the U.S., China and Europe.
Cone will continue to produce yarns and fabrics made with the S Gene technology under a license from Invista.
Hegedus said over the next few months Invista will be meeting with its customers and other fabric producers to discuss its expanded dual core patent estate and license requirements.
Meanwhile, a grouping called Cone Climate offers customized fabrics such a blend with Unifi’s Sorbtek moisture control yarn, Optimer Brand’s Dri Release temperature control fibers, Cotton Incorporated’s Trans Dry moisture management fabrics, and Invista’s Cool Max wicking and insulating materials.
For the truly active consumer, Cone Strong and Cone Gard offer durability, strength and abrasion resistance.
Nicholas said Cone is also blending its cotton with Tencel, which she feels has become “more meaningful” and provides a combination of “strength and comfort.”
Technology is also behind Tencel’s continued innovations such as its Sustainable Denim Wardrobe collection, said Tricia Carey, Lenzing’s director of business development.
Sustainable Denim Wardrobe has been produced to showcase Tencel lyocell and Lenzing modal fiber variants across a number of garment categories, including wovens and knits, casual and formal, women’s, men’s and unisex.
The collection allows Tencel denim to spread into areas such as jumpsuits, sweaters, and quilted vests by collaborating with Santoni and its proprietary technology to create seamless knit blends.
“The line is designed by Jeanologia and is done in collaboration with mills in China, India, Italy, Pakistan, Spain and Turkey,” Carey said.