Interview with Regina Polanco

Regina Polanco
Regina Polanco
Founder & CEO
Pyrates Smart Fabrics
Pyrates Smart Fabrics

Demand dictates whether smart clothing is affordable
Spain-based Pyrates Smart Fabrics was set up with the goal to find a fashion solution to health and environmental challenges. Led by millennial Regina Polanco, its mission materialised into a range of nature-derived smart fabrics - Pyratex and performance streetwear brand Pyrates. Polanco deliberates about the future of smart fabrics and the growing emphasis on functionality in sportswear.

How did you come up with the idea of Pyrates smart fabrics?

Pyrates started as an athleisure brand, born from me wanting to create comfortable sportswear that would be adapted to our and future generations' active lifestyle. When I was brainstorming the first designs, I knew that the direction was right, that sportswear is at the core of today's and tomorrow's fashion, but something more special, more innovative was still missing. At the time, I was reading a lot about the negative effects of today's technology, Wi-Fi waves, smartphones, those screens that we have our eyes fixed on all day long. It got me thinking and that is when I came up with the idea of smart fabrics.

What is the technology that Pyrates smart fabrics use?

We have developed a range of five different smart fabrics, at the core of which are natural active fibres with caring properties for the skin and the body, such as blood circulation improvement, muscle relaxation, skin moisture improvement, skin cells regeneration or boosting the immune system, among others.

What is the USP of Pyrates? How is it different from other natural smart fabrics?

We set ourselves apart from other smart fabrics as those tend to either heavily rely on synthetic fibres or lack any functionality when natural. We offer a unique combination: natural performance fabrics. Our Pyratex fabrics provide the same benefits and more as synthetic smart fabrics, but using responsibly-sourced natural fibres, which are much more respectful to nature as well as to our skin. We stand out by offering this unique combination of functional and natural.

Where do you source raw material for the fabrics from? Do you manufacture it or outsource it?

We follow the process of production from fibre to the final product, working in collaboration with many different suppliers, most of them European. For instance, we knit our fabrics in northern Italy.

What is the annual production of Pyrates smart fabrics? Which major brands or retailers have you collaborated with?

We started to commercialise our products a year and half ago and supply fabrics to different types of clients. We offer small brands and young designers in-stock fabrics, selling our stock starting at 1-3 metres per fabric. For medium-sized brands, our minimum order quantity starts at 50 metres per colour. For big brands, we can even customise our range of smart fabrics, changing the weight or varying the composition. We offer the companies we work with different types of collaborations, not only supplying them with our fabrics, but, thanks to our brand expertise, providing them with assistance in any phase of their product development, such as design, patternmaking, prototype production (in house), consulting or garment making in Europe. We give these types of services, for example, to gyms that want to create their own clothing line yet have no capacity or know-how for developing their product.

What are the challenges in making sustainable and smart clothing affordable?

There is a traditional way of doing things, which makes the production process, and knowing what is behind it, hard to follow. Making smart clothing affordable is completely dependent on demand, and our prices have steadily decreased since we began our adventure because of the increase in demand. Our goal is for it to be more and more affordable, following this increase in demand, which in turn allows production costs to reduce.

Which are your major markets?

Northern Europe, the Gulf countries and the United States are our major markets now, though we aim to expand to Asia and South America as well.

Which are your best-selling products?

The current orders we receive are for all our different fabrics, which is exciting because that means all of them have their place in the market.

What is next for Pyrates?

We are going to keep following the research and development (R&D) path, developing new fabrics and using new natural fibres with new properties, as well as increasing our visibility and further expanding our vision of using functional, natural technology. (HO)
Published on: 11/07/2018

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