INVISTA, owner of the LYCRA® fibre brand, revealed a number of innovations at the only global legwear conference in the world, held last week in Como (Italy). Professionals from right across the industry were treated to a series of talks and seminars on the future of the legwear industry and the consumer reality of hosiery today and tomorrow.
As part of its continuing commitment to sustainability via Planet Agenda, Rob Dewhurst of INVISTA presented the new LYCRA® AquaNRG technology which is designed to save 30% of water usage used during the dyeing process (currently 100-150 litres of water are used for 1 kilogramme of hose – that is a bottle of water for every 9 pairs of tights!). Dewhurst further elaborated that the reductions in water usage and also a reduction in energy for water heating/cooling could reduce the process time by 1-2 hours and of course reduce waste water. The process has been trialled and Dewhurst commented: “We are ready to work with our customers, 85% of whom have already indicated that they would favour a technology that reduces or even eliminates the scouring process, to validate these findings and scale up the technology. And of course, we are exploring the possibility of extending this new technology into other applications.”
In product terms, INVISTA introduced two innovations: LYCRA® Super Summer Sheer technology and Compression for everyday. In an entertaining talk, Sybille Bald of INVISTA, commented: “This new Super Summer Sheer technology has been designed to create and highlight fresh perspectives on ultra sheer hosiery … designed to be worn during the warmer summer season, by delivering sheerness with lasting fit, barely felt hosiery and optimal durability our aim is to position it as the leading ‘Better than Bare’ offering.” The technology makes ample use of the finest ultrafine LYCRA® fibres (T777F) and anti-laddering FUSION™ technology.
The compression market is growing rapidly with increases of some 600% reported in the last four years, said Consuelo Banon and Sybille Bald of INVISTA, on the second day of the Conference. Based on research from over 4,390 consumers in North & South America and Europe, findings show that these increases are not accounted for by the medical need of wearers but more by performance and wellbeing/beauty concerns – that is, for everyday wear, tired legs and contouring the leg for a better visual appearance. The new fibre (T772F) offer interior compression with outer run-resistance and has to be used in every course to be part of the LYCRA® Energize programme.
Rethinking fit was the concern with the 4th innovation – the LYCRA® FIT FINDER application which enables women to find hosiery that fits and feels comfortable. A new approach moving away from Size to Fit to Stretch-to-Fit. INVISTA with Select Research has created a trial app which is multimedia and has already been trialled in Poland with Ferax and in store (Gatta). It is a easy to use application designed for the ‘mobile’ generation and dovetails neatly into the ‘selfie’ and personalised consumer. The application is not fully commercial yet but its ease of use (tested by Underlines) should ensure that the app will engage consumers.
Further speakers highlighted the UK as a still expanding market in 2015 whilst most other European markets were still declining. Of a total spend on fashion of 200 billion Euros a year, the UK was currently spending 43.8 billion (followed by Germany with 39.9 billion) on purchases including outerwear, legwear and lingerie and shoes. However in relation to hosiery and socks, Germans are the kings of Europe with more purchases than any other European country.
The conference also illuminated that the fastest growing sector of purchases is via mobile devices including particularly Smartphones (the top 5 markets for smartphones are China, USA, UK, Japan and South Korea and unsurprisingly perhaps these countries are the top players in e-commerce sales).
A full report on the Conference will appear in the next edition of Underlines Magazine.