Bed product -- photo by Messe Frankfurt - Jean Luc Valentin.
“Technology is the mantra that will make or mar a company’s future,“ said a representative of the Mumbai-based Bombay Dyeing Co., Ltd., which had set up a large stand at the Heimtextil trade fair held from January 12 to 15 in Frankfurt.
Though many small and medium-sized exhibitors showcased their standard set of products at the Heimtextil fair, there were also quite a few who flexed their technological muscles with innovative and high-end products which, experts say, are expected to sell well because of their unique attributes.
Austrian manufacturer Lenzing, for example, presented its new fiber innovation TENCEL® C. Suzanne Jary, head of home-textiles marketing (textile fibers) at Lenzing told this correspondent that TENCEL fiber had “positive skin properties“. “Due to its smooth fiber structure, TENCEL® fiber is particularly silky. TENCEL’s botanic origin, by virtue of it being extracted from wood, means that it has particularly good breathing properties,“ she claimed.
Because of its property as “moisture manager“ among textile fibers, in combination with Chitosan, a natural product from the ocean, TENCEL® is a fiber that provides cosmetic benefits, Jary added.
TENCEL® C, the new age fiber with oceanic skin care complex from Lenzing.
Jary said that Chitosan is extracted from the shells of shellfish and is then applied to the fiber. After cellulose, Chitin is the most frequent naturally replenishable polysaccande in the world and is “ever-present in nature”. “This natural substance is an ideal match for TENCEL,” she said. Chitosan is used in cosmetics and in the pharmaceutical industry and, as Jary maintained, can alleviate itching, regulate cells and protect the skin as well as its antibacterial effect.
Lenzing carried out a study with 32 test participants with healthy skin wearing a stocking of TENCEL® C on one leg and a cotton stocking on the other for two weeks. A dermatologist evaluated the skin of the test participants. In 41% of the test subjects, the leg that had TENCEL® C looked better with reduced dehydration, fewer wrinkles and less comification and micro-fractures. In general, the level of moisture of the skin drops less with TENCEL® C which acts like a moisture protector and prevents its loss from the skin.
German manufacturer Smartfiber AG of Rudolstadt showcased fiber innovations for the home-textile market; it had enhanced the quality of its fibers by focusing on a climate-regulating, skin-caring and odor-reducing property.
“Our SeaCell is a sensational new product. The idea behind it is quite simple – a cellulose-based fiber is manufactured using the so-called Lyocell process. The Lyocell fiber then serves as the functioning substrate for the seaweed which is added as an active substance because as a marine plant it is rich in trace elements and it protects the skin with its anti-inflammatory properties. Indeed, the seaweed forms the basis of the SeaCell fiber,” Michael Kohne, Smartfiber’s chairman, said in an interview with this correspondent at the Heimtextil show.
According to Kohne, the seaweed’s effect is further boosted by a long-lasting antimicrobial effect which was also confirmed in tests carried out by the Hohenstein Institute to meet Japanese industrial standards. Trials with bacterial and fungal cultures at the University Hospital of Jena have also established that the active fiber has antimicrobial properties.
SeaCell has a wide range of applications in woven and non-woven products such as workwear (including gloves); sportswear, socks and shoe insoles; underwear, home-textiles, carpets, bedding and towels; non-wovens, including cloths; household articles and hygiene products.
Smartfiber makes some 40% of its sales in Europe and 60% in Asia. “China, which is our big market, uses our materials in its finished products which are exported, mainly, to the USA, Japan, etc. We have also started to export to India where we organized roadshows in various cities,” Kohne added.
But the chairman of Smartfiber acknowledged that his fiber was expensive because of its quality. “However, our fibers are well appreciated for the quality and are selling well at the show,” he maintained.
Karl Rieker GmbH & Co. KG, a German textile company, showcased another innovative product called Sensipur Zinc with smartcell, sensitive fibers inside. Sensipur Zinc is used in home textiles, especially in bed linens and fitted sheets.
Germany’s – and indeed Europe’s - biggest polyester yarn producer Trevira GmbH, Frankfurt, which has a sophisticated and well-established R&D center, was making a strong pitch for its products at the Heimtextil.
Harthmuth Huth, Trevira’s vice president (marketing and sales) explained: “We are showcasing at the Heimtextil our inflammable products, noted for comfort and safety. Actually, these are products which have been marked for some time; however, we have upgraded them.” Trevira, which had a turnover of 240 million euros in 2010, offers customized products to cater to the specific needs of its customers.
“I believe that technology will play a key role in the home-textile and technical textile industry. Innovation will drive future sales growth. We pay great attention to our research and development efforts because of the long-term implications for our business,” Huth said.
The Wall – Photo by Messe Frankfurt- Jean Luc Valentin.
Juggling with figures, Detlef Braun, the managing director of Messe Frankfurt GmbH, said that the global home-textile sector had demonstrated its regained vitality at the Heimtextil 2011. “The fair continues to expand its position as the world’s leading platform for home and contract textiles,” he added.
“In addition to the quantitative increase, we also see this in qualitative terms – in the unrivalled variety of new product lines, many of which are ecologically oriented, and in new home-fashion labels that are on show at the fair for the first time”, added Braun.
The optimistic mood at the show was also reflected in the increased numbers both of visitors and exhibitors. Some 73,000 visitors from 136 countries - a 3% growth over 70,786 in 2010 - descended on the fair, according to Messe Frankfurt. The number of exhibitors rose by 5% to 2,601 (2010: 2,469), with China, India, Pakistan, Taiwan and the USA accounting for a large overseas participation. The bulk of European exhibitors came from Germany, Turkey, Italy, Spain and France.
An important factor driving the economic recovery is the growth of 6.7 percent in domestic demand. Textile sales in both the European and worldwide markets have substantally increased, with the industry looking optimistically in the future.
This year’s Heimtextil fair also took note of the growing consumer interest in ‘green’ segments, presenting a series of offers and events for visitors on sustainability.A ‘Green Directory’ was launched at the fair, listing exhibitors of textiles characterised by high ecological product quality or a sustainable method of production.
“In this manner, we aim to create greater transparency in the market and offer the whole sector valuable orientation aid”, Olaf Schmidt, Vice President, Textile Fairs, Messe Frankfurt, said.