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Sustainable, Botanic Fibers for the Outdoor Market
If you look at the list of the world’s most influential fabric innovators in the Outdoor market, David Parkes of Concept III always shows up at the top. So, who better to choose as a collaborator and partner to present Lenzing’s sustainable botanic fibers to the Outdoor Industry? We caught up with David to chat about sustainability and TREE-CLIMATE, his newest collection featuring fabrics with TENCEL™ branded lyocell fibers.
David began his textile career in England but became the true Outdoor Industry fabric guru during his time with Malden Mills working with Polartec. Parkes founded Concept III in 1983 and can claim a multitude of fabric developments for a “who’s who” list of outdoor and active sports apparel and sportswear manufacturers as well as major retailers. David believes that creative performance textiles are what drive the Outdoor market.
In his charming English accent, David spoke with us about his new TREE-CLIMATE collection featuring TENCEL™ branded lyocell fibers.
What’s the fit between the TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers and the Outdoor market?
David: I am really excited to introduce TENCEL™ brand to the Outdoor market. Outdoor consumers, brands, and retailers are primed for more sustainability. With the fabrics I’m developing for the TREE-CLIMATE collection, the Outdoor market will see performance, aesthetics, and sustainability come together in highly functional fabrics that are beautiful and exceedingly more responsible.
This is the first major Outdoor collection to feature TENCEL™ branded lyocell fibers and when retailers and consumers see what we have created, they will agree that botanic fibers are a natural fit for the Outdoor consumer. And TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers are not just a great match because they are botanic and made from wood, a renewable resource. They also demonstrate inherent performance benefits that are highly valued by Outdoor consumers, especially moisture management, softness, skin-friendliness, and thermal regulation, not to mention gorgeous dyeability for the bold color statements we love in this industry.
I’m particularly excited about TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers with REFIBRA™ Technology that incorporates with the wood a high percentage of upcycled cotton that would otherwise end up in landfills.
Tell us a little more about the fabrics you are developing for TREE-CLIMATE.
David: The breadth of fabrics is really exciting for me. Some of the fabrics are revivals of well-loved favorites from the Outdoor market’s rich history, like the “reverse weave” sweat shirt fabric that was so popular in the 70’s and 80’s and a classic raymar fabric. When these wonderful fabrics are reconstructed with TENCEL™ Lyocell and sometimes other select fibers, they are entirely relevant for today’s Outdoor market—beautiful, luscious performance fabrics that are now much more sustainable because of the addition of botanic fibers.
We didn’t ignore the foundational fabrics either. Flannels, chamois, a curly Sherpa, textured wovens, and a flat back rib celebrate the Outdoor tradition. Now they’re made better with the sustainability, softness, and inherent performance benefits that TENCEL™ Lyocell brings to the game.
Speaking of games, what’s behind TREE-CLIMATE, the collection’s name?
David: I really like that phrase in relation to this collection. The fabrics will clearly compete in the functional fabric arena, the field of play that has long defined the Outdoor apparel market. Sustainability is the change, the augmentation of the definition of an Outdoor fabric to include function and purpose. These fabrics will really shift the active consumer’s mindset from total performance to total performance that is also responsibly made and kinder to the environment.
How important is partnership in creating these special sustainable fabrics?
David: In my long experience in this market, the best programs result from partnership. It’s been a pleasure to work with Lenzing and their mill partners to bring the TREE-CLIMATE fabrics to life. I’ve been very impressed with the refreshing approach Lenzing takes to collaboration and product development. They’ve torn down traditional barriers and linear communications channels between supply chain partners and actively enabled dialogue and information sharing. The new levels of creativity and ideation that were sparked as a result of Lenzing’s energizing approach resulted directly in these fabulous TREE-CLIMATE fabrics.
The TREE-CLIMATE collection will be presented at the Functional Fabric Fair in Portland October 22-23 in the Concept III booth # 614, 617, and 618 as well as at the Lenzing booth #519. Look for special seminars featuring David Parkes and the TREE-CLIMATE collection at the show.