IMPRESSIONS from a Cross-section

Sector Pulse
Paul Ford
Paul Ford

‘In apparel, there has been significant confusion in the market on the benefits of antimicrobials’

Company Details

Business Area:
The company provides antimicrobial solutions for textiles, medical, and industrial applications. It owns brand like Agion, Agion active and Lava.


What is the importance of anti microbial solutions in the textile industry and how has it changed over the time?

I think antimicrobials have been well utilized in footwear for over a decade.  The Agion antimicrobial has been used in well over 200 million pairs of shoes over that period.  In apparel though I believe there has been significant confusion in the market on the benefits of antimicrobials.  In apparel, the mechanism is significantly more complex and only a percentage of the odor is derived from bacteria. 

However, for the past number of years, many antimicrobial companies have positioned themselves as odor control solutions.  In fact, our marketing research indicated that the consumer buyer is generally not satisfied with the level of odor control offered by standalone antimicrobial solutions.  This makes sense because a vast amount of the odor emanating from the human body is sweat compounds which are not derived from bacteria.  They are emitted from the body and pass to the textile and ultimately evaporate with no interaction with bacteria.

There are very few new antimicrobial solutions entering the market.  Significant regulation in Europe has stymied the market for biocides (e.g., antimicrobials).  If a product was not on the market prior to May 2000 and if the manufacturer/supplier did not notify the regulators in Europe in 2002, the process for approval of that biocide for the EU market follows a different track.  In either case, the approval process is complex and costly.  Even with a complete library of safety studies, the Agion antimicrobial product is still working its way through the EU process. 

For fifty wash solutions, chemistry costs for an antimicrobial solution should be less than 5-10% of the cost of the fabric; the dual technology solution would typically be 15-20% depending on the fabric.  We are finding local Asian brands are also welcoming the technology but designing for 20-30 washes.

The Agion Antimicrobial is used in several traditional nonwoven applications, including face and surgical masks, pleated water filters, carpeting and several disposable fabrics for healthcare settings.  In each case the antimicrobial provides a technical benefit, not merely a marketing claim. 

Unlike a synthetic organic chemical, silver comes from the ground and ultimately reverts back to an bound state after it does it’s job controlling odor on the garment.   Any silver which is released to wash water quickly binds up with proteins or other compounds and is not available to fish.  The Lava odor absorber does not contain an active ingredient and so it is never releasing a substance to control the bacteria.     

–Manushi Gandhi

Published on: 22/07/2014

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

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