How is the experience of working in coordination with companies like Huntsman (Ciba), and Clariant?
Our experience is very good. With Huntsman we share the 3XDRY® feelgood technology since 2005; with Clariant, we market the self-cleaning NanoSphere® technology since 2007; and since summer 2008 we have had a cooperation with Clariant for our new sun reflector and UV protector, coldblack®. The cooperation with the two global players enables us to provide customers everywhere with the benefits offered by our technologies on a local basis. For the mentioned technologies Schoeller Technologies AG owns the patents and is responsible for marketing and branding activities. The respective technical partner is handling all matters of sales, production and distribution worldwide, and the transfer of technical know-how and quality assurance towards new and existing customers, predominantly textile mills.
In your view, how is today’s global textile industry doing? What can be said for present and future potential of textile specialty chemicals industry?
I’d like to remind that the textile specialty chemistry industry doesn’t stand alone when answering this question. While there are more and more inexpensive textiles available, consumers are becoming increasingly educated about responsible, ecologically minded manufacturing and are now more willing to pay more for products they can trust. This means that textiles with a great new performance and guaranteed responsible production have a greater chance. Therefore, we need specialty chemicals and fibres or other ingredients with an innovative potential and an ecologically safe origin. Such textiles and the industries behind have a greater chance today and in the future. I even would say the ecological part is the key for the future of the industry.
Textiles for non-conventional use is a lucrative industry and is like a silver lining in the cloud of current recession. Your company is already an established name in this industry, how would you comment on this statement?
In the 1970s/80s production in Western Europe was too expensive and Schoeller was forced to develop outstanding textiles in order to find a niche in which to survive. Our goal became to develop the best stretch and protective fabrics. Throughout our history we have been the first company to produce stretch fabrics for ski pants which changed the style of mountaineering wear completely. This innovative, specialty strategy led to our creation in the 80s for the first motorcycling textiles that incorporated tear resistant Kevlar® fibers. Being creative and searching out the “new” has led us to the claim “innovative fabrics” and this is the driving force behind our daily business. Key factors for a successful textile product today are for me function/benefit; ecology; look and feel; availability/time – if a product is a ”me too” product, then only the price is essential.
Cotton is a highly popular fiber. How can your products add to its performance and make it highly functional?
Due to modern textile technologies, natural fibres can essentially be upgraded. Cotton, a cellulose fibre which has been in use for 5000 years, has an enormous world market share. Its properties such as comfort, high absorbency, durability and good wash ability make it very popular. The cotton look and it’s specific touch are familiar globally. It is a logical step to adapt cotton or even wool to meet the high requirements of today’s consumer. Cotton with the advanced moisture management system 3XDRY®, enhances the natural characteristics and adds new functions. Cotton can absorb up to 32% of its own weight in moisture, but this remains stored in the clothing over a long period. Due to the hydrophilic finish on the inside of the textile, body moisture is more efficiently absorbed, spread over a wide area and can then evaporate faster. This also shortens the drying time after washing. Also NanoSphere® offers new properties to cotton or wool or silk textiles, as the extremely high water, stain and oil repelency of this textile finish keeps the textiles clean for longer time. And the fact that they consequently need less washing assists to save water, energy and detergent.
It is axiomatic that the R&D division is the scale to measure Company’s success. What is your say?
To make a product successful, all parts of the developing, manufacturing and marketing process need to be up-to-date and to go hand-in-hand. But of course if the basic idea behind a new development is not outstanding, the product has no chance to become “unique” and to sell well. R+D are essential for higher priced products, yes.
Acknowledging safe environmental and eco friendly products, what efforts are carried out at Schoeller Group?
For many years Schoeller has been aware of its responsibility to people and their environment. We use only tested, first class raw materials, chemicals, and dyestuffs for production. Safe and sustainable textile production is guaranteed at Schoeller by adherence to the bluesign®-Standard (see www.bluesign.com: you have interviewed in Face2Face), the world’s most stringent textile production guideline. bluesign® examines all textile-relevant substances starting with the very beginning of the process, through the finishing process, and even looks at the end product. Therefore, harmful substances are eliminated before production even begins and/or are managed according to "Best Available Technology" in the process to guarantee a safe end product. Schoeller was involved in the development process of this global textile standard and was the first textile company in the world to be honoured with bluesign® award in January 2008.
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.