Garments needs to perform, look and feel better than ever

In an interview, Rohit Aggarwal, President, Huntsman Textile Effects with Chemical Today Magazine points out that consumers are increasingly looking for textiles that are not only sustainable but which provide comfort and the performance levels required for an active lifestyle. This has been the driving force for the company.

By Debarati Das

Global textile trends influencing the textile chemicals business.

Several forces are reshaping the global textile industry. Consumers today are demanding a cleaner and more transparent textile supply chain, which puts pressure on brands and retailers and, ultimately, on the mills that serve them. Regulatory authorities in India, China and elsewhere have also been introducing tougher environmental legislation and stricter enforcement policies for several years.

The economic environment is also more challenging. The global textile industry is now more competitive than ever. Brands have slimmer budgets and tighter delivery schedules, but they need fabrics that combine excellent performance and good looks to satisfy a more demanding market. At the same time, mills are facing rising wages and higher energy and transportation costs, plus price volatility in cotton and raw materials.

As economies develop, consumers have increased disposable income and more active lifestyles. China will be a key market in this regard, with government efforts to boost grassroots participation in sports helping to create demand for sporting apparel.

Today’s consumer looks for versatile clothing. For the outdoor apparel industry, this means creating garments that perform well and look and feel good. And with a multitude of brands competing in the sector, consumers have more choice at more price points than ever before.

Sportswear consumers demand clothing with rain-, stain- and soil-resistant effects and anti-bacterial and anti-odor properties. They want clothing to keep them cool, to protect them from the sun, and to help them perform at their best. Fabrics must also be comfortable and long lasting — breathable and soft to the touch, with colours that stay true and won’t fade with frequent washing or exposure to the sun or pool chemicals.

Technology advancements in the textile chemicals business.

Innovation has always been absolutely critical to the growth and sustainability of the Huntsman business. While many in our industry are cutting back, we are investing more in dyes, smart processes, intelligent effects and digital inks. Huntsman Textile Effects today holds around 700 patents and some 25 percent of our products are less than five years old. We consistently invest around 5 percent of turnover in research and technology and more than half of our projects are related to environmental sustainability.

Crucially, we believe in delivering innovation with purpose. Our world faces great challenges: population growth, climate change, food and water scarcity, and energy management. In Asia, the world’s most diverse and dynamic region, these issues impact our daily lives in real ways. People here are eager to find solutions and chemicals have a key role to play in this quest.

At Textile Effects, we enrich lives through innovation and developing products that not only create value for our stakeholders today but also make a vibrant world possible for future generations.

Some of our key products include AVITERA® SE dyes that save energy and water. AVITERA® is the first para-chloro-aniline (PCA) free reactive dye range. AVITERA® SE dyes ensure rapid and very high exhaustion for cotton and other cellulosic fibres and their blends. More of the dye is absorbed by the fabric, using less salt with less than 7 percent of the absorbed dye remaining unfixed, compared to between 15 percent and 30 percent of conventional reactive dyes.

We also have the most comprehensive range of non-fluorinated durable water repellents with High IQ Repel products that offer solutions for every performance need:

  • Everyday: smart and economical eco-friendly protection against everyday stains for school, casual, athleisure and business wear.
  • Outdoor: durable and eco-friendly protection for outdoor clothing that excels in all weather.
  • Extreme: Extreme protection so that mountaineers, skiers and other adventurers stay warm, dry and comfortable, even in the most severe environments.

Products under HIGH IQ® Repel are part of a brand assurance scheme to help mills, brands and retailers meet global demand for eco-friendly apparel with rain and stain protection.

Huntsman Textile Effects also has a suite of digital ink solutions to meet growing demand for fast fashion. Our digital printing technologies allow mills to print an almost unlimited array of colours and complex patterns in short runs through a very clean process that minimises waste and substantially reduces water and energy consumption.

Opportunity for textile chemicals in developing countries.

Demand for textiles is growing globally, fueled by population growth and rising household incomes. Asia will remain the global epicentre of textile manufacturing, with India, China and Bangladesh dominating. Countries like India and China continue to dominate the textile industry. China still accounts for large domestic consumption as a result of rising affluence and it also exports a large amount to developed economies.

Similarly, India has developed into a large market for textile chemicals owing to the domestic production and export of cotton and synthetic fibres. However, costs continue to rise in these markets, with higher wages and regulatory costs and more expensive raw materials, and competitive South-east Asian nations are gaining ground.

The role of textile chemicals for manufacturing better textiles.

Consumers are increasingly looking for textiles that are not only sustainable but which provide comfort and the performance levels required for an active lifestyle. These demands will continue to drive innovation in the development of products designed to meet multiple requirements. We also help brands differentiate to capitalise on changing consumer preferences with technologies that support the creation of innovative textile products with intelligent effects such as durable water repellency and built-in freshness and sun protection.

As a key supplier in the global textile value chain, Huntsman Textile Effects is committed to helping our customers and the industry overcomes these challenges and creates cleaner and more efficient and transparent supply chains. To do this, we focus on sustainability, innovation and collaboration in everything that we do.

We help mills enhance profitability through process improvements and innovative state-of-the-art dyes, chemicals and inks that reduce water and energy consumption and improve productivity. We work closely with brands to meet the requirements of their Restricted Substances Lists (RSLs) and contribute to greater transparency in their sustainability reports.

Huntsman’s textile business in India.

Huntsman has been active on the Indian subcontinent for more than 25 years. We have more than 1,000 associates in the region. Textile Effects has a manufacturing plant in Baroda in the state of Gujarat.

We have offices across India and headquarters for the India sub-continent in Mumbai, which houses four Huntsman divisions under one roof to help drive creativity, collaboration and growth for the India subcontinent.

The textile effects team includes more than 100 technical staff in the state-of-the-art laboratory and research facilities. Many of the products and innovations created here are unique to the subcontinent’s needs.

Our strategy for growth in India and the wider Asia Pacific is to focus on sustainability, innovation and collaboration. We are currently realigning our regional operations to bring decision-making closer to the customer and improve cross-functional synergy to react more quickly to evolving customer and market requirements.

Huntsman’s business plans in Asia Pacific

Huntsman Textile Effects has an established presence in countries such as India and China. We are also present in the developing markets of Bangladesh and Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam.

Asia remains the epicentre of the textile industry and our focus will continue to be on products that meet multiple requirements, including vibrant and lasting colour, high light fastness, rain and stain management, lasting whites and overall comfort.

The textile industry is heavily reliant on fresh water and much of the water mills use ends up contaminated by salt and other pollutants. This is more serious in countries like India and Bangladesh that are already vulnerable to water shortages. Stricter control of water is increasing as governments consider plans to address water issues.

As an industry leader and trailblazer, Huntsman is committed to collaboration in India and our other markets to help address this challenge, which we see as a pressing one for the textile sector.

Huntsman’s focus on R&D on textile chemicals.

At Huntsman Textile Effects, our focus is on helping customers take advantage of changing consumer preferences and rising demand for performance effects. We have the most comprehensive range of products and services that deliver on performance and end-use requirements across the apparel, home and technical textiles market segments and the digital printing sector.

Whether producing high-fashion garments, practical work attire and active sportswear or reliable technical textiles, our customers demand highly versatile, comfortable, colourful and durable materials that look and feel good. Across all of these key segments, Mills also need to adhere to the Restricted Substance Lists of the world’s most demanding brands, while also saving water and energy and reducing production time to further lower costs. Regulators are also more strictly enforcing environmental laws, with mill closures and restrictions contributing to raw material price volatility.

We see these demands and challenges as providing opportunities to our customers and our company. Our products and process improvements help mills and brands enhance profitability and stand out in their markets while meeting the strictest industry standards and regulations. We believe that sustainability and market growth can and must proceed in tandem, and this is what we deliver. This not only helps our customers achieve sustainable growth but also raises standards across the textile industry.

Innovations from Textile Effects

AVITERA® is the first para-chloro-aniline (PCA) free reactive dye range. AVITERA® SE dyes ensure rapid and very high exhaustion for cotton and other cellulosic fibres and their blends. More of the dye is absorbed by the fabric, using less salt with less than 7 percent of the absorbed dye remaining unfixed, compared to between 15 percent and 30 percent of conventional reactive dyes. The unfixed dye is also easier to remove at lower washing-off temperatures, as it is not bound to the fabric fibres in a high-salt solution.

As a result, processing mills can dramatically increase productivity, since the dyeing and washing-off cycles are substantially shorter, while also making significant savings. Less water and salt are required and energy consumption and CO2 emission are greatly reduced because water used in the dyeing and washing-off process does not exceed 60°C.

Huntsman’s Durable Water Repellents (DWR)

Huntsman Textile Effects’ innovate DWR finishes are combined with its unparalleled technical support and application know-how.

Bringing high water repellency to cellulosic and cellulosic-based fabrics, Huntsman’s PHOBOTEX® RCO finish provides durable eco-friendly protection against everyday stains and is ideal for casual wear, athleisure wear and school wear. PHOBOTEX® RCO finishing also contributes to mill efficiency, with good running properties that help ensure smooth production. Furthermore, it is an environment-friendly non-fluorinated solution that does not contain any formaldehyde or blocked isocyanates.

PHOBOTEX® RCO water repellent finishing is part of a broad portfolio of non-fluorinated DWR products that meet the performance requirements of the HIGH IQ® Repel program. All the HIGH IQ® Repel finishes offer excellent protection against rain while remaining breathable, comfortable and soft to the touch. The Huntsman DWR solutions also repel stains so that garments look clean and new for longer, with an improved stain release for easy spot-cleaning and durability through many laundry cycles.

Areas of focus for future growth.

In technical textiles, for example, our future focus will remain on combining performance and durability to deliver quality medical barrier fabrics, carpet, curtains, work-wear, automotive liners and interiors, wipes, roofing substrates and flame barrier products. The challenge here is to meet stringent industry standards and regulations for the adequate protection and restricted substances, while also delivering functionality, comfort and durability in a cost-effective way.

Our advances include flame-retardant PYROVATEX® and the PHOBOL® range of short-chain C6 chemistry for stain management and durable repellency against liquid chemicals.

Growing market segments for textile dyes and chemicals.

At Huntsman Textile Effects, our focus is on helping customers take advantage of changing consumer preferences and rising demand for performance effects. We have the most comprehensive range of products and services that deliver on performance and end-use requirements across the apparel, home and technical textiles market segments and the digital printing sector.

Whether producing high-fashion garments, practical work attire and active sportswear or reliable technical textiles, our customers demand highly versatile, comfortable, colourful and durable materials that look and feel good. Across all of these key segments, Mills also need to adhere to the Restricted Substance Lists of the world’s most demanding brands, while also saving water and energy and reducing production time to further lower costs. Regulators are also more strictly enforcing environmental laws, with mill closures and restrictions contributing to raw material price volatility.

A number of global brands are already adopting our sustainable products in their range. In the coming year, we expect to see more leading brands in the sports and leisure sector investing even more in sustainability.

Challenges preventing a market growth of textile chemicals.

The textile industry is heavily reliant on water and with increasing industry and government regulation, coupled with water scarcity, is a major challenge for the textile industry. This is particularly critical in countries like India and Bangladesh that are already vulnerable to water shortages. Stricter control of water is increasing as governments consider plans to address national water issues and pollution control. We are also now seeing more stringent expectations for water usage. The ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines released late last year, for example, will help our industry improve water quality by providing a harmonised set of wastewater parameters, test methods and limit values.

We see these demands and challenges as providing opportunities to our customers and our company. Our products and process improvements help mills and brands enhance profitability and stand out in their markets while meeting the strictest industry standards and regulations. We believe that sustainability and market growth can and must proceed in tandem, and this is what we deliver. This not only helps our customers achieve sustainable growth but also raises standards across the textile industry.

© Chemical Today Magazine

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