Thursday - February 19, 2015

Improving innovation and sustainability in the apparel and footwear industry

Bayer MaterialScience and IAF collaborate in coated fabrics

On three continents: INSQIN® series workshops on waterborne PU technology

Leverkusen, February 2015 – Bayer MaterialScience and the International Apparel Federation (IAF) have entered into a collaboration aiming at significantly improving the innovation and sustainability in the apparel and footwear industry.

As an important first step, both partners have recently run a number of INSQIN® series workshops which took place across three continents. Under the theme of “Setting New Standards for Material Innovation and Sustainability”, the workshops proved to be essential events for footwear and apparel brand owners that use polyurethane (PU) coated fabrics, for example PU synthetic leather. Textile coating experts from Bayer MaterialScience took the opportunity to introduce INSQIN® - a novel turnkey solution for brand owners and manufacturers looking to achieve ambitious goals related to innovation and sustainability.

“With pure waterborne PU technology and rich textile coating application expertise, Bayer MaterialScience wants to inspire brand owners and manufacturers to explore new possibilities in the design and creation of ´magical´ PU-coated fabrics with INSQIN® technology and related services,” says Nick Smith, Global Head of Textile Coating at Bayer MaterialScience. “And we wish to introduce our brand to the apparel and footwear industry through the collaboration with IAF and its members.”

Waterborne PU technology for sustainable material innovation
Offering design freedom, durability and economy when compared to genuine leather, PU leather is increasingly becoming the material of choice for footwear, apparel and accessories. Whilst brand owners turn to PU technology for its unique combination of properties, they face challenges in dealing with the environmental side effects of mainstream PU technology. Large amounts of solvent are used in the current PU coating process, creating occupational hazards and environmental pollution risks.

INSQIN® pure waterborne PU technology enables PU synthetics to be manufactured according to a new process that does not require the use of any solvents, and therefore eliminates all negative issues associated with their use. The technology presents a wide range of possibilities to enhance and transform fabrics, be it luxurious hand feel or unique textures and finishes for the fashion industry, or high performance materials required by sporting goods manufacturers, in applications as diverse as PU leather, functional fabrics or high-performance printing, to name just a few.

“Bayer’s presentation was very informative. Waterborne PU eliminates the problems associated with solvents once and for all, and it is the solution that we need in the long term. We will follow the industry’s adoption of the technology closely,” says Larry Lang, Senior Fabric Manager, Hermes-Otto International.

Secure supply chain transparency
The other hot topic covered during the INSQIN® series workshop is how to secure supply chain transparency. The textiles industry is extremely complex and sometimes for manufacturers it is difficult to get visibility and direct access to brand owners interested in sourcing more sustainable materials. Also for brand owners, transparency about the origin and quality of fabric materials is often difficult to achieve.

Addressing these unmet needs, Bayer MaterialScience has also developed the INSQIN® Partner Manufacturer Program that through professional third party audit verifies the management system and production processes of manufacturers using the technology.

Certified partner manufacturers of INSQIN® benefit from technical support from Bayer MaterialScience for the implementation of waterborne PU technology in their units in order to speed up the commercial scale-up of the new materials. For footwear and apparel brands wanting to source new sustainable materials, the scheme provides them with manufacturers with proven credentials in sustainable manufacturing. Brand owners can easily identify textile materials produced with the technology via clear INSQIN® labelling on packagings. Increasing supply chain transparency is a real source of peace of mind for brand owners in the footwear and apparel industries.

About Bayer MaterialScience:
With 2013 sales of EUR 11.2 billion, Bayer MaterialScience is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. At the end of 2013, Bayer MaterialScience had 30 production sites and employed approximately 14,300 people around the globe. Bayer MaterialScience is a Bayer Group company.

About IAF:
The IAF has become the world’s leading federation for the national associations of apparel brands and manufacturers, for the brands and manufacturers themselves and for the supporting industry. IAF’s membership now includes apparel industry associations representing over 60 countries. The many corporate and associate members of IAF are prominent companies or institutes in production, brands, technology, business services, logistics, fashion fairs and education.

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