Interview with Thomas Dislich

Thomas Dislich
Thomas Dislich
Managing Director, Vicunha Textil for Europe & Asia
Vicunha Textil
Vicunha Textil

Too many newcomers with basic products keep the market oversupplied
With more than 40 years in the market, Vicunha is one of the largest textile manufacturers in the world and a leader in various segments. Thomas Dislich, managing director, Vicunha Textil for Europe and Asia, converses about the trends dominating the denim sector.

What is the global demand for denim fabrics?

We see the demand for denim evolving. It is a strong fashion item everywhere. The problem is an excess in production capacities installed around the world. Unfortunately too many newcomers with basic products keep the market oversupplied.

Which are your major markets in Europe and Asia?

We have been very well established in Europe for many years, with active sales channels from Portugal to Poland and from Turkey to Sweden. As Asia responds for most of the jeans imports to Europe, we are naturally also active in Asia. We cover the market well by "pushing" in Asia and "pulling" in Europe.

What is the annual meterage produced at Vicunha?

In 2016, our five factories, three in Brazil and one each in Ecuador and Argentina, have produced about 200 million meters.

What is the USP of denims made at Vicunha?

We are a world leader in sustainability and ethical trading with global knowledge of the denim market. 

What will be the major trends in denims in terms of wash, colour, shape, and fabrics for S/S 2018?

In a lot of ways, this season is a rule breaker. There will be unexpected combinations of colour, pattern and exaggerated proportions. Shapes are larger and bolder, lightness and fluidity are important as shapes seem spontaneous and quite abstract. On the other hand, there will also be a lot of rigid colour blocking and hard lines. What we will see is unexpected combinations of wash colour and shape, which at times appear quite random. New blues will bring a brightness and lightness to the palette; marbling and cloud-wash effects with reference to the '80s are amongst this new breaking of rules.

What blends are popular in denim?

In both ladies and menswear we have seen a huge amount of business in stretch denims. As the consumer calls for comfort, those with the greatest stretch and recovery have led the way. In womenswear, there is definite interest in fabrics with drape and fluidity. This has led to interest in fabrics containing tencel, lyocell or viscose. This feeds into the luxe leisure theme. For menswear in particular, denims that bridge the gap between jogging pants and jeans have done exceptionally well. Rigid, heavier weights with raised twill weaves and surface character have recently become popular, but even in the heavier rigids, those with more softness and drape are preferred particularly for womenswear.

Vicunha opened a showroom in Amsterdam last November. Do you plan to expand to new regions?

We expect Amsterdam to become the commercial hub of our European activities over the next few years. We can always consider being present in other important capitals, but for the time being we are building up Amsterdam.

Where do you draw inspiration from to develop new denim fabrics? What are the three major influencers?

Inspiration comes from many places, but there is always coexistence of references from a previous era reinvented and reinterpreted in combination with the new. We are always looking back whilst looking forward. Technological advances play a large role in what we achieve. We have come a long way from the shrink to fit days of sitting in a bath of water in a pair of new jeans. 

Fabric always needs to relate to shape and style trends. It is the super skinny that has led to the success of hi-stretch fabrics and dual core spinning technologies have given us the best performance in this category. Lifestyle changes also play a part. New categories have been invented, like work clothes that also become play clothes and casuals that become active sportswear. The lines are blurring.

Please share details of the last two fiscal years and your expectations from the next two.

In spite of the slowdown in Brazil, we have done well these past two years. Our turnover is around US$ 600 million and the net profit in the region of 10-12 per cent.

Any plans to step into the Asian/ Southeast Asian market?

Yes, indeed! We have a big new idea which will be announced shortly. But it is too early to speak about it now.

Which are the three main sustainable policies followed at your units?

We excel at waste reduction, our 3R system of reduce - reuse - recycle runs through the entire manufacturing process. We recover heat, water and chemicals for re-use. We recycle our own cotton in- house using every ounce and therefore creating zero waste. We use locally available cashew and coconut shells to fuel our boilers, which would otherwise go to waste, and harvest the CO2 emissions from the boilers to use in our water cleaning plant which in turn makes us carbon neutral.

What budget have you allocated towards R&D?

Our average R&D expenditure is about three to four per cent of turnover.
Published on: 03/02/2017

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