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Unlike many anti-odour products, we do not use chemicals
Steve Rawlings, Director of Odegon Technologies, shares his vision for designing products that absorb odour, the number of brands under his company, and the entire process of how it works with Fibre2Fashion.com
What led to the designing of products that absorb odour? What did you have in mind?
Chemical odour-suppressant finishes tend to kill all bacteria - both good and bad. During the wash cycle, these finishes can leach out on to the body and the environment, and some cause untold damage to aquatic and marine life, which is yet to be researched fully. Thinking this is not an ideal solution, I cast my mind back to the early days of my career. Many years ago while working in the defence industry, I came across a material which absorbed not just odours, but was also used (and still is) for life-saving, breathing filters against chemical warfare agents. I realised what a powerful tool it was for odour-absorbing when placed correctly in a garment. It was the head of quality and innovation at a global retailer, who saw the unique advantages of Odegon over chemical finishes. He said, "All finishes are like using a sledgehammer to crack open a nut, whereas Odegon is so much more incisive and targets just areas that need odour-control with no unpleasant side-effects such as environmental contamination."
Kindly explain the working process of your products?
It is important to emphasise that unlike many other anti-odour products we do not use chemicals. Instead, our technology relies upon a physically attractive force which works on a very small scale. Our material has countless 'micro-pores', and when odour-causing molecules come into contact with these micro-pores, they get trapped. There is a huge internal surface area in our material i.e. the odour-absorbing capability is vast. We do not aim to kill bacteria, because we know this can have a detrimental effect on the environment and potentially also on the wearer's skin. Instead, we focus on solving the problem at hand and eliminate the odour rather than unselectively killing both good and bad bacteria.
What are the challenges in all this?
The biggest challenge is to get across the concept of not using any chemicals and accepting the working of the product. Even though we have proven tests from a variety of institutions and wearer trial tests from respected companies such as Boots the Chemist and Marks and Spencer, all potential customers want to carry out their own field trials. It's very assuring when clients come back with glowing reports as to the effectiveness of the product. A number of international airlines are now using Odegon in their cabin crew uniforms, and we are getting many repeat orders through their uniform suppliers. We usually have to go in at senior-level to get noticed, and those most receptive to new technology tend to be not just garment technologists, but also marketing directors. These people can see the potential of Odegon, and want to offer their customers something new and genuinely effective.
Kindly share your next big project and current researches.
It is because we have invested a lot of resources in securing our intellectual property internationally (such as patents), our product offering is expanding. We can become more flexible in coming up with 'bespoke' odour-absorbing solutions. Garments such as shirts, jackets and blouses are our bread and butter. However, we are now expanding to include all garment and accessory classes. New projects which we can talk about include bespoke solutions for hosiery, sports bags, footwear and headwear. There are many others, but confidentiality prevents us from divulging more details.
What are your expansion plans?
We have at this moment 15 major brands worldwide, with a number still trialling Odegon and more coming on board. Being a relatively new and expanding company, we have targeted major brands first. With executives moving to different companies, they tend to take good ideas and concepts with them such as our Odegon products. Recent major names include Umbro, Ted Baker, Carrefour Clothing, Pretty Polly and Raymond, India.
Published on: 08/10/2015
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.
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