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The volume of sustainable fibers produced is almost six times that of wool – yet awareness and application of the former still lags behind. That’s a large gap that Lenzing has been working to fill at its Application Innovation Center (AIC) in Hong Kong, helping to develop awareness around and insight into how state-of-the-art fibers can be applied to create products that are not only highly aesthetic, emotional, and functional, but also sustainable.
In service of that goal, this year the AIC collaborated with the design departments at two leading schools in Hong Kong – the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and the Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong (THEi) – to inspire up-and-coming designers to use sustainable fibers. Lenzing provided yarn made from sustainable TENCEL™ branded fibers, which were adopted for the development of knit showpieces by students. The final works were featured in the “Knit Together” exhibition and award ceremony in early December.
“Sustainability is a core research dimension at THEi, and we often encourage students to explore a diverse range of materials,” noted Ms. Alice Chu, Associate Professor and Program Leader of BA (Hons) in Fashion Design at THEi. “During the process of creating knitworks, students found that TENCEL™ LUXE fibers were not only sustainable, but also very soft and delicate. They used firm structures to compliment with the softness of the fibers, which created beautifully shaped knits that are also soft and comfortable.”
Through the collaboration with the Lenzing AIC, students were encouraged to rethink the concept of sustainability and how to incorporate it into their designs.
“Lenzing worked with students every step of the way, helping them better understand how to use the fibers and providing them with support and inspiration, noted Dr. Ho Chu Po, Associate Professor of Fashion & Textile Design at PolyU. “Instead of focusing on perfecting the end product, Lenzing encouraged creative thinking in developing design concepts, with sustainability serving as an important aspect.”
Using TENCEL™ branded fibers, which are derived from sustainable wood sources and produced by environmentally responsible processes, students were able to see the versatility of sustainable fibers, which can be used in many forms as the basis of stylish, comfortable and sustainable fashion, whether in yarn or in other fabrics. Participants all expressed interest in using these fibers in their future designs, helping to build a future of sustainable fashion.
This project marked the first collaboration of its type between the Lenzing AIC and local academic institutions, but certainly won’t be the last, as the AIC views engaging and inspiring the next generation of designers as being core to its mission. Already, Lenzing is developing an internship program, where selected will have the chance to work in the Lenzing AIC to both broaden and deepen their knowledge in the textile industry and better understand the entire fashion and design supply chain.
As a leader in environmental responsibility, Lenzing recognizes that developing sustainable fibers is only half the battle – it must also work across the fashion and textile world to engage designers, retailers, and other communities to inspire sustainability throughout the industry.