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  • IMPRESSIONS from a Cross-section


    Just creating a new fibre is not enough but people have to buy it too. How are you marketing your product among apparel manufacturers as well as end-consumers?

    Quality & affordability to affect market acceptability of new fibres
    Fibre2Fashion spoke to some fibre brands about the marketing strategies they implement to reach apparel manufacturers and end-consumers in the event of a new fibre discovery.

    Hoi Kwan Lam: Innovation is always born in the laboratory, but used by consumers. The adaptation of innovation in the supply chain is very important. But if at any point of time, the next person does not understand the benefit, then this innovation will not be pushed forward. In order to ensure the innovation arrives physically to the consumer, we have to ensure that the message also arrives at the consumer. So, what we do is-we do our marketing to the brands and mills who would put the innovation into the physical product. We make sure they are engaged along the way of messaging, so that they can tell the next person in the process about the benefit so as to convince that next person.

    Looking at megatrends: digitisation is important, as also the Googling effect. Even if we would go to a shop to buy something, no one buys anything nowadays without Googling first. That's why we always have a QR code on our hangtags, which you don't have to scan. The QR code on our hangtags is a good reminder for people to Google it before they buy. Thus, it is becoming more and more important to providing digital materials to brands so that consumers can directly come to our website to look for more information on the subject.

    Florian Heubrandner: Sustainability is now one of the most important topics in fashion. Both consumers and brand partners are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of the industry-from its use of pesticides, chemicals and water to production process, waste treatment and its resulting carbon footprint. To ensure our customers and end-users understand the profound intrinsic advantages of sustainable fibres, we clearly outline our performance benefits including softness, breathability, durability and of course leading sustainability.

    Nowadays, consumers are also better educated and are demanding transparency from brands to understand the manufacturing methods of their clothing and the materials used.

    On the B2B front, we have also been working on a series of initiatives to better promote our brand and product offerings including the addition of a new Tencel Insights page to our website, designed to share industry knowledge with customers and partners. In addition, our close collaboration with different initiatives and global organisations, such as the Make Fashion Circular initiative-part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which targets to create a new textiles economy, has aligned with the principles of the circular economy.

    Sharon Chong: As you know, MMCF producers represent the upstream of the entire value chain, where we do not have direct access to brands and end-consumers. However, in a bid to better understand and cater to the apparel industry's needs and expectations, Sateri set up a dedicated team to actively engage with the downstream sector, including apparel manufacturers and brands. Additionally, we also do our own part in gauging overall end-user demand for our products by: Conducting our own surveys and trend studies yearly, sharing our findings at industry events; we work directly with marketing teams of apparel producers or brands, to get firsthand information on consumer demand and feedback; we showcase our flagship innovations at trade events, offering opportunities for customers and consumers to have a firsthand experience of our products.

    Apart from sustainability attributes, quality and affordability will also affect market acceptability and uptake of new fibres. The consistency in our products' performance even when produced at scale, as well as overall cost competitiveness is what gives our customers and in turn, their own downstream customers the assurance and confidence in the product.?

    Kazuki Morise: Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their choices and purchases. Through our collaborations with designers and textile companies, our material is increasingly recognised and valued as it meets the needs of transparency, responsibility, in addition to quality and design. Today, circularity is also in the harmonisation of the value chain from the fibre to the final brand; synergies are fundamental.

    The strategies of choice of fabric partners and brands must be coherent with value choices that correspond to smart products at 360°: beautiful, innovative, performing and responsible and properly communicated. Having the right partners who share the journey and contemporary goals, we become a team that manages to offer not only a contemporary product (making) but also a story of values that the consumer can choose and buy.

    Robert Jarausch: We go to the end consumers. What we do is that we also produce the final products. For example, we produce a fire-fighting gear/face masks/ medical scrubs, and we have those tested. We can take these to the interested parties and say look this is an example of what can be done with our fibre; these are the test certificates to see what properties of these garments are; and what they can bring to the table. These are the ideas that you can tap into... either you have your own supply chain then you can use that, or we can even put you in touch with the full supply chain. What we are looking at is more co-creation rather than just go to our immediate customers which would be the spinners and manufactures to tell them here's a fibre and do something with it. Because we believe that we actually need to approach the end consumers and explain to them what's out there. That's because they may not actually know as they are not specific textile people like you and me who have been working in this industry for such a long time and know exactly what to look at.

    Marina Crnoja-Cosic: Right from the ideation stage, our open innovation concept brings all the relevant parties together. We monitor consumer needs and seek partnerships with end-product manufacturers that are in close contact with the consumer. In the development stage, we work closely with institutes for the development of prototypes. We build up a chain that involves fibre technology as well as nonwoven technology and end-product manufacturing. By joining our expertise, we find the best solution possible that is also practicable throughout the whole manufacturing chain and we ensure that we don't develop past the market.

    Kirsi Terho: You're right, it's not enough to have a great fibre if no one knows about it or wants to use it. But you do need to create a great fibre to get the buy-in. Our strategy from the very start has been to work closely with the world's top fashion and textile brands and to allow them to experience the quality and performance of our fibre for themselves. They have been putting our cellulose carbamate fibre, or Infinna, through the rigours in their own supply chains to see how well it performs in their existing manufacturing processes; they have been creating different types of fabrics with it to learn how it suits different applications and designs; and they have been assessing how clothing made with it looks, feels and performs. And we're really happy that the results have been great. It was wonderful to be able to issue a public endorsement of our fibre by the top five fashion brands and a leading nonwovens manufacturer last autumn.

    Ruth Farrell: Naia has collaborated with H&M to launch Naia Renew as part of H&M Conscious Exclusive autumn/winter 2020 collection. This was the first time H&M used Naia Renew in a collection. We received very positive feedback from the market, and we are working with multiple brand partners to bring this circular solution at scale to their consumers.

    Gianni Corso: In MIC, we love to communicate all our improvements to reduce our CO2 impact, instead of just marketing products. In 2018, MIC renewed its fleet with cutting-edge technologies, thus managing to reduce water consumption by 50 per cent in the dyeing phases and by 35 per cent in energy consumption; another important aspect concerns the purification of the water which takes place through a modern purifier that allows water purification up to almost all (~98.5 per cent) of the polluting substances. The photovoltaic system that is present on the roof of the premises and is periodically renewed participates in the production of clean energy used by the company. This commitment has allowed the reduction of CO 2 emissions into the atmosphere by over 860 tonnes in the last 15 years equal to the planting of over 2,200 trees.

    Daniel Uretsky: This is the challenge, but thinking about our innovations with a direct purpose to both increase performance and reduce impact is key. We are lucky in that we have a tremendous portfolio of partner brands that we can work with and co-market for exclusive launches to help build excitement to the end user. But again, none of this works without a strong sense of purpose. The days of simply "what's new" are long over… the new question is "why is this important?" There is a lot of work to be done and a lot of misinformation to overcome. Fast fashion's very low-cost product is very appealing to a large part of the population who have been trained to see things as disposable and look for the best and quickest bargain. It certainly is an uphill battle, but we are very proud to be a part of an industry that is working very hard to challenge those perceptions and help educate the new consumer about the benefits and importance of buying well-made, long lasting products using sustainable materials.

    Mike Simko: Yes, this is exactly right. As the largest spandex producer in the world, we have a tremendous amount of R&D and technical resources focused on innovation. To direct this effort, we rely on our strong relationships with key brands in all our strategic end-uses-not just listening to our customer, but also to our customer's customer, and the final consumer. This way our innovation developments are targeted to real needs in the marketplace, bringing real value to the consumer.

    This article was first published in the?March 2021?edition of the print magazine.

    Published on: 28/05/2021

    DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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