Innovation in textiles and apparel

Asia New Innovation and Sustainability in Textiles

Asia is the International hub for the textile and apparel industry. Asian suppliers are the greatest contributors to the global textile market. By 2025, the global textile market will be valued at 1.3 trillion. Since most of the countries in this cluster are at similar stages of development, they will need to develop various strategies to increase profit and employment at the same time.

60% of world textiles come from Asia, with a majority of the production involving cotton. The cultivation of cotton consumes so much water that in turn it has a significant adverse affect on the environment. The textile industry is one of the biggest contributors to solid waste in most of the countries

However manufacturers are becoming aware that they need to switch to modern alternatives that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Manufacturers based in South Asia (India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan) are a part of a circular movement away from the linear production of textiles. Early adapters in the textile and apparel industry have already started moving in this direction.

With declining resources, particularly those obtained from natural fibers, combined with the environmental impact of synthetic and petroleum-based products have forced businesses to look for alternatives to become sustainable. There is strong indication that the textile industry is moving in this direction. Over time changes will have a significant influence on shaping the core values of the textile industry.

Manufacturers have started using materials and technologies, such as: Textile fibers manufactured from food; recycled materials like glass bottles; digital printing; dying with air and others. Below we investigate some of incredible technologies, which are transforming the textile and apparel industry.

Fabric made from coffee beans and fruits

It is amazing how modern technology can convert coffee, tea, and fruits into fibers for making textiles?

The usually discarded coffee grounds can become the raw material for creating coffee ground fibers. The coffee yarn can be used in developing a number of apparel and household items.

Fibers made from fruits are another innovation. Pineapple leaves are being used for making fibers, popularly known as “Piñatex”. The fibres are extracted from the leaves in a process called “decortication”, which is the removal of the membrane or fibrous cover of the pineapple waste. The fibres then undergo an industrial process to become a non-woven textile, which is the base of Piñatex.

Similarly, banana fibers obtained from the stem of the banana tree are used in making fabric that is strong and biodegradable at the same time. The benefit of this fiber is it can be used for making textiles of different thicknesses.

Lotus fibers have been in use for centuries but recently have gained popularity. The final product is similar to a silk and linen combination: breathable, silky, and stain resistant.

Drying using with air to save on water

This is one of the latest technologies that have been incorporated to reduce the consumption of water in the dyeing process. It also cuts down the number of effluents discharged into the nearby water bodies. It uses proprietary dyes and pigments that are transferred directly onto the fabric using heat. This single-step process requires fewer resources and labor. This saves huge volumes of water and consumes 80% less energy than conventional methods.

Use of recycled materials such as plastic and glass

Recycled synthetic products like glass bottles, plastic bags and containers are being used for making textile fibers. The synthetic materials are first processed to convert them into fine particles, followed by a melting process that produces the fiber.

Digital printing techniques

This is another method of transferring designs directly on to fabric using printers. This method of printing uses 90% less energy and minimizes fabric waste.

Direct Panel on Loom (DPOL)

Direct panel on loom (DPOL) technology is the brainchild of an Indian designer with the intent to maximize fabric efficiency. This technology is successful in reducing the lead-time in manufacturing of high-quality garments. A computer system is attached to the loom to feed data such as color, size, and pattern. Steps like fabric cutting, weaving, and patterning takes place simultaneously. This technology saves both water and energy.

GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)

In order to define the standard for organic textiles, the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) program was launched. GOTS is a textile production certification that limits the use of toxic bleaches, dyes and other chemical inputs during the production process of textiles.
GOTS certification also ensures environmentally safe and sustainable manufacturing. As the demand for organic textile is increasing across the globe, there is a need for well-defined standards accepted worldwide.

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About the Author: Jeffrey Clark

A management professional with 25 years of global experience working with fortune 500 and specialty brands, specializing in lean manufacturing, product, supply chain management, procurement, sourcing, and operations. Proven proactive leadership, vision, creativity, and successful strategic business skills to drive revenue and profit growth in highly competitive domestic and global markets. A strong relationship builder functions effectively as an integral member of a cohesive senior executive team. Proven ability to source, identify and capitalize on emerging trends and niche market opportunities.