Antiviral fabrics set to become ‘market standards’ in 2021 – WWD
MILAN – In addition to the challenges it has created, the pandemic has also accelerated more than one trend in the fashion industry, including the textile sector’s crucial role in spearheading innovation.
As the first wave of COVID-19 cases spread internationally and the importance of customer safety and health care rose to prominence, a number of historic textile companies in Europe have advanced amid blockages and brought to market a new family of high-performance fabrics with antiviral qualities.
They were meant to become a new market standard along with odor control, wrinkle-free treatments and natural stretching, providing an answer to the fears and concerns of the average fashion consumer in 2020.
Looking forward to 2021 with the prospect of distributing multiple vaccines around the world, consumers may show less interest in antiviral fabrics, especially as fear of getting infected just by touching or trying on clothes. seems to be a problem of the past when less evidence was provided by the scientific community on whether tissues and other materials could themselves represent a means of contagion.
Consumers have also become more aware of risky behaviors they should avoid, and this does not primarily affect clothing, as the primary means of spreading the virus is through the air.
In recent months, however, more vendors have developed antiviral finishes and treatments, signaling that the potential of these fabrics remains significant – and brands seem to be taking note.
Fabio Tamburini, Chairman and CEO of Cotonificio Albini, the production arm of the Albini Group, which developed the ViroFormula family of antiviral fabrics in partnership with Swiss company HeiQ, said several brands ranging from luxury to contemporary have adopted their fabrics. , including Italian Xacus and famed Kong-based Hong Ascot Chang, among others.
“Although vaccines will allow us to return to normal and safe life as we used to, we are confident that consumers will always seek antiviral tissues,” he said, noting that the increase in travel and the use of public transport will push consumers to seek safety in their fashion purchases.
“We are still convinced that the antiviral properties are required for the market in the future, even when the pandemic is fully controlled. The main objective of each [fashion] the company is to respect and meet the needs of its customers and after all these difficult months everyone wants to go back to their usual routine and feel safe, ”he said.
At Marzotto Wool Manufacturing, which launched antimicrobial fabrics made from natural yarns treated with the ViralOff finish developed by the Swedish company Polygiene, CEO Giorgio Todesco attributed their success to a change in customer perception, with greater attention scope for technical performance.
The executive pointed out that ViralOff fabrics have particularly appealed to retailers who supply uniforms to their sellers, for brands in the Asian market and more generally in the contemporary fashion segment.
On a related note, Luxury Jersey, based in Italy in Lecco, which also operated HeiQ’s Viroblock finish like the Albini Group, saw an increase in demand from companies in the sports leisure market, with around ten brands already making prototypes.
The chief executive of the company, Federico Boselli, projected a less optimistic scenario for consumer attitudes even after the vaccine was distributed and, overall, he believed that “consumers will be more hygienic and pay more attention to germs in general “.
To that end, he predicted “a wide circulation of antimicrobial clothing,” echoing the sentiment of Alberto De Conti, head of the fashion division of German chemical company Rudolf Group, who conducted laboratory tests on his RUCO technology. -BAC AGP introduced in 2005 and proven to have antiviral properties on the coronavirus family.
De Conti believes these fabrics will continue to play a central role depending on customers and brands looking for hygienic finishes, even though a vaccine could reduce their demand.
The executive also referred to another crucial factor: “Due to a proliferation of misleading information, the market is increasingly expressing its interest in reliable and understandable test results. The textile market is looking for real performance that can be communicated to customers rather than short-sighted marketing gimmicks, ”he said.
Certainly, no company can casually claim antiviral properties in Europe and the United States and these companies have made it clear that these fabrics do not replace PPE and do not prevent the risk of contagion.
While some expect the antiviral tissue market to grow, thereby promoting R&D activities and lowering their production costs, Todesco was less confident that demand will continue to increase in 2021 even though, he said. said, there will always be specific sectors to target, such as worker uniforms.