Flax to become next major player in garment, textile industry - NAT
Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc, the developers of the proprietary CRAiLAR process, announced it has a potential solution: a new, natural fiber derived from flax that can be blended with cotton to decrease production costs without the use of synthetics.
"Everyone in these industries is aware of the negative impact high cotton prices is having, and will most likely continue to have, on their bottom line and on their consumers" said Ken Barker, CEO of Naturally Advanced Technologies. "There's a problem, and people are speculating about how to solve it. A logical response is to blend cotton with other fibers to bring costs down. CRAiLAR flax is a cost-effective choice that won't force consumers to sacrifice cotton's desirable qualities."
Like cotton, CRAiLAR flax is soft, breathable and comfortable to wear and is well-suited for knit garments like T-shirts, sweaters, hosiery, denim jeans and work wear. Flax is a sustainable, Earth-friendly crop that requires no irrigation and little or no chemical fertilizers and pesticides. It's also cost-effective and commercially viable, costing less per pound to produce than cotton.
The all-natural, 100%-organic CRAiLAR process — the first to successfully remove the binding agents from flax that contribute to its stiff texture — bathes flax fibers in a proprietary enzyme wash that transforms them into soft, yet strong and durable textile fibers that can be used in both fashion and industrial applications. Fibers made through the CRAiLAR process are plush and have most desirable virtues of cotton, combined with the strength, moisture-wicking properties and shrink-resistance of sturdy bast fibers like flax. NAT's recent trials have proven that CRAiLAR flax can be spun on existing machinery to produce a yarn that can be used alone or blended with cotton and other fibers.
"Flax grown in the U.S. and Canada is currently limited to producing grain for human consumption and for use in industrial oils, livestock feed and personal-care products," Barker said. "We predict that these crops will soon be overshadowed by a new fiber-producing flax crop poised to revolutionize the garment and textile industries. Naturally Advanced Technologies is behind that strategic shift."
NAT has secured a 40,000-square-foot facility in Kingstree, S.C. to use for an initial, scale-up facility in which to produce CRAiLAR flax. The property is housed near 300 acres of flax crops, enabling the company to oversee the entire process, from cultivation to the finished product. Flax is a winter crop in South Carolina that rotates well with cotton, soybeans and tobacco, allowing farmers there to double-crop their land and increase their revenues exponentially.
NAT has already successfully transformed hemp fibers into yarns and fabrics with the sought-after qualities of cotton using the CRAiLAR process. The company's new strategic shift to use flax fibers is expected to change the face of thegarment and textile industries as they find ways to cope with this challenging phase.
"The benefits of cultivating flax for fiber are enormous in terms of sustainability, revenue-earning opportunities, cost-effectiveness and the high quality of the end-result," Barker said. "CRAiLAR flax is the perfect complement to cotton. We see it as the potential solution to this global crisis — one that will allow these industries to reduce costs without compromising the quality of their products."
Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc