The segment of stretch yarns is a necessity, not an option anymore
The history of Elasten marks the history of stretch fabrics worldwide and the avant-garde structure that distinguishes it both for quality, typology and production capacity making it the largest in the world. In an interview with Fibre2fashion, Giovanni Benelli, Director of Elasten, speaks about the journey of Elasten as a company and throws light on how the market of stretch yarns is poised to grow in the next 5-10 years.
What is the worldwide market size of stretch yarns?
The market of stretch yarns is huge. Actually it is divided in many typologies. Our segment is the most beautiful, intended for the medium high/high market which is obviously the most expensive.
How do you see the market segment of stretch yarns growing in the next 5-10 years both locally and internationally?
The segment of stretch yarns is a necessity, not an option anymore. Thus, even while evolving it will remain a necessity for the next 5/10 years. More sustainable productions will be found but once one tries the comfort of stretch, he cannot go backwards, maybe for some garments in the wardrobe but not for the entirety of lifestyle.
How did your father discover the elasticised linen accidently? Which are your patented products?
My father has always been a hard worker. Since the time I was born till my adolescence, I saw him less than half an hour in a day because he was always working. He reached linen when I was already working in the company and I could see all the studies and trials he did. Thus, we can speak about a discovery achieved after long study, not ‘accidentally’. He applied a new way of thinking which was unusual at that time. Since then we extended this method to so many kinds of yarns.
Our patented products are many. It is actually a family of products including linen, hemp, ramie/nettle and others which we elasticise with various elastic natural or synthetic materials at one or more plies. Our patents are valid in most parts of the world and cover both yarns and deriving fabrics to produce a patented exclusive garment. Hemp and linen are currently the most required material thanks to their natural properties of thermoregulation and anti-bacterial. Besides being the greenest and most sustainable fibre of excellence, hemp and linen in the stretch version are something never seen nor tried.
What is the growth story of Elasten?
Elasten has always elasticised any kind of yarns. For a long time it was the exclusive twisting company for fabric maker Milior Prato, a leading company in the production of stretch fabrics in the 90’s/2000/2010. For example you will remember the Prada Luna Rossa team boat competing in the American Cup; its clothing was made with our yarns. Before Elasten, my father owned a spinning mill producing carded yarns and my grandfather together with his own grandfather (5th generation) owned a wool mill producing fabrics with carded wool.
At the end of the 80’s, the carded spinning declined and Elasten was founded thanks to the intuition of various entrepreneurs including my father and it grew into the world’s largest facility of this kind.
Where do you source your raw materials? How agile is your supply chain? What steps do you take to ensure transparency at every stage?
Our suppliers mainly come from Europe and China. Our production processes are completely internal and this guarantees big flexibility. We are Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified and we also have GOTS certification as a productive chain segment for some of our customers. We sell our yarns but also work with third parties. Thus we consider ourselves very flexible in terms of working with small and big quantities. The quality control is completely internal to our company and this guarantees quality.
How many third-party customers do you have?
About fifty customers.
Where is the manufacturing facility of Elasten based at?
Italy, Prato, located twenty kilometres far from Florence in the beautiful Tuscany.
What are the innovative elastic techniques you employ to manufacture various types of stretch yarns?
Our different techniques are protected by our international patents and are aimed at enhancing the beauty of the fibre we elasticise playing with its characteristics.
What is the production capacity of your yarns?
2,500 kgs per day. It depends on which count of yarn we are producing
What are the various applications of your stretch yarns?
Our stretch yarns are intended for woven fabrics, flat and circular knitting, fashion and technical clothing, furnishing, footwear and automotive.
Who are your competitors in the international market?
It is hard to find competitors. If you want an optimal product which is ‘out of the box’ with certain characteristics and you are willing to spend a little bit more, then we are the sole producers.
Which are the major markets for your products? Which regions you would like to tap in future?
Some time ago we thought that our most ‘obvious’ markets were western countries and US. In the last three years we’ve started knocking at the door of the world best producers located in Pakistan, China, Vietnam, India... who rightly have an increasing need to get beautiful products into their collections, they cannot be oriented to the mass market only anymore but also need to point at medium/high – high market. From our side we have been making many efforts and having a lot of expenses for sampling, travels, exhibitions, but we are slowly seeing our market growing.
What kind of capacity expansion are you planning in future?
We think we can expand widely as the customers we target to have huge productive capacity even though we are aware that one kilogram of our yarn is ten times more expensive than one kilogram they habitually use. We would never like to move our productive headquarters to a low-price country. We strongly care about our domestic productive chain that we are proud of.
Thus, we offer the possibility to our customers of buying the license to produce our items inside their companies providing them with possible studies on new projects.
How do you keep a track of textile market trends and other related information?
Our sales department is small but we travel, listen to our partners, customers, suppliers as we are always driven by our curiosity towards new trends and in this way we manage to get an idea of what can be carried out and what isn’t worth. Our sampling machine is always running, even at Christmas or New Year’s eve.
I try to understand the market needs. I try to make some samples of yarns meeting such requirement. Then my father, me and the rest of the team follow the production process.
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