Chemical group Lenzing is strongly focused on offering eco-friendly materials. Andreas Gürtler, head of global business management of activewear and outerwear, explains how the group aims to support sportswear and activewear brands keen on responsibility.

Andreas Gürtler, head of global business management of activewear and outerwear
Photo: Lenzing AG
Andreas Gürtler, head of global business management of activewear and outerwear

How important is the sportswear market for Lenzing?
For many consumers, being health-conscious is something they are very aware of, each and every day. As people spend more time exercising and engaging in outdoor activities, it is imperative for consumers to find garment products that are made from materials which not only make them feel good and look good, but also do good. With the growing of wellness trend among consumers, the activewear segment is definitely expanding at Lenzing. We continue to develop fibers that keep users pleasantly cool and dry with natural comfort and versatility, through strengthening customer and partner relationship.

 

What are the main innovations Lenzing is focused on in this market?
While we continue offering Tencel Active, group of cellulose fibers of botanic origin that keep body pleasantly cool and dry with their natural comfort and versatility, enabling freedom to move with confidence, we have recently been focused on introducing our award-winning Refibra technology and Lenzing Ecovero fibers to the activewear segment, as well as the Lenzing Modal Black solution for colored fibers. Circularity has been a big topic for the sportswear industry, with multinational brands such as Stella McCartney and Nike are committed to switch from “Take-Make-Waste” operations to a business model focused on reusing. Lenzing’s pioneering Refibra technology reinforces circularity through recycling cotton scraps with minimal emissions. Our fully sustainable Lenzing Ecovero branded fibers offer transparent identification ensuring these viscose fibers are cleanly sourced and produced. We are also tapping into the demand for viscose in the activewear segment by offering our fully sustainable Lenzing Ecovero branded fibers, which offer transparent identification ensuring these viscose fibers are cleanly sourced and produced. Besides circularity, given the traditional textile dyeing process being highly water-intensive, water conservation is another environmental concern in the industry. Synthetic materials that are frequently used for sportswear, such as polyester, are naturally hydrophobic, making them more difficult to dye. To tackle this, Lenzing has introduced Lenzing Modal Black fibers, a spun-dyed fiber that incorporates the pigment during the extrusion production process. It can help lower energy and water consumption by 50% compared to conventional dyed fabrics. These fibers are suitable for soft sports garments, such as yoga clothing or athleisure leggings. They are also fade-resistant, which shows no signs of fading even after up to 50-plus washes.

 

The sportswear and activewear market often use synthetic and man-made fibers. How can sportswear apparel be sustainable, too?
Caring for one’s health through exercising and the wellbeing of environment are some of the rising key values of the millennial society. For sportswear and athleisure wear, consumers no longer only focus on style and functionality, but also the environmental costs embedded in the products. As a result, demand for sustainable sportswear and textiles is on rise, and Lenzing has been a keen industry stakeholder to drive the push.

 

Will sportswear become more and more eco-friendly in the future? How can this happen according to your group’s vision?
Industrywise, sportswear brands and retailers can switch to a more eco-friendly path starting from fiber innovation: sourcing natural, clean and biodegradable fibers for sportswear as an alternative to synthetic fabrics.

 
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