Newsletter No 30/4 August 2023
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Clothiers bet on ‘cooling’ fabrics as global temps rise
By Katherine Masters
Racks of AIRism clothing at Uniqlo 5th Avenue in New York City, U.S., July 31, 2023. Reuters/Kate Masters
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Retailers such as Macy’s and Columbia Sportswear are expanding their use of “breathable” and “cooling” fabrics in a bid to boost sales as record-high temperatures drive demand for clothing that can help consumers beat the heat.
Other major companies, including VF Corp and Permira-owned Reformation, are also touting warm-weather styles made with Tencel, a lyocell fiber that textile manufacturer Lenzing says is more absorbent than cotton.
The push comes as clothing retailers, whose sales dipped as inflation-weary consumers prioritized essentials over discretionary purchases, amp up their marketing of “cooling” garments as heat waves batter at least three continents.
Apparel manufacturers and sellers are banking on lightweight materials and performance fabrics aimed at offering more relief than traditional cotton and polyester knits, as well as high-tech fibers they say offer wearers “active” cooling.
Many such textiles have been used for years, especially in athletic clothing from brands such as Lululemon, according to Jess Ramirez, an analyst for Jane Hali & Associates. But with rising temperatures, more retailers are promoting them for hot weather and expanding into year-round styles as winters grow warmer.
Macy’s officials told Reuters its newest line includes a $150 trench coat made with lyocell and $24.50 tee-shirts made with modal — two silky fibers produced from wood pulp that textile experts say are lightweight and breathable.
The department store chain is expanding such inventory and will market some of those items as “breathable” and “cooling,” Macy’s Senior Vice President of Private Brand Strategy Emily Erusha-Hilleque said. Macy’s conducts quality tests to back the claims, she added, but the company declined to offer details.
Women’s brand Reformation in June began selling new skirts, bottoms and dresses with Tencel, which the company calls “foundational” to its products.
Few retail market firms track specific sales of “cooling” clothes, but related fabric manufacturing is rising.
Tencel-maker Lenzing expanded production with a Thailand facility last year, its senior business development manager Sharon Perez said, citing growing demand from brands including Patagonia and VF’s North Face despite costs of up to $0.10 more per pound than other materials.
Overall, global production of cellulose-based fibers including lyocell, modal and cupro grew more than 10% to 7.2 million tons in 2022, according to the nonprofit Textile Exchange.
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PT Golden Tekstil, an Indonesian mill whose clients include Macy’s, PVH and Ralph Lauren’s Polo brand, boosted its “performance” fabric production by 20% to 30% in recent years, its U.S. design director Beth Carter Schlack told Reuters.
Still, it also remains unclear whether materials marketed as cooling can lower body temperature or simply help wearers feel more comfortable.
Textile industry groups have developed tests to assess cooling, mostly by measuring a fabric’s ability to distribute moisture and dry out quickly as a proxy, according to the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists.
But no specific tests are required before companies can make cooling claims, and not all lab findings necessarily translate to actual use, said Roger Barker, who studies textiles at North Carolina State University.
Companies are also producing more garments with performance fabrics such as Lycra’s COOLMAX, a polyester yarn designed to wick sweat away to evaporate.
Fast Retailing’s Uniqlo has expanded its AIRism line using super-fine, smooth fibers made from polyester and cupro, which is made from cotton waste, that it says dry quickly and feel cool.
Kirsty Wilson, a materials consultant who has worked with major retailers, told Reuters more brands are using “performance yarns” such as COOLMAX that dry more quickly than cotton.
J. Crew and H&M are among the retailers using COOLMAX, which is also used in bedding, sleeping bags and other products geared toward warm, humid weather.
Hotter temperatures are also driving more advanced “active cooling” fiber technology by embedding materials that trap and release heat rather than the passive cooling offered by most materials to-date.
While sweat-wicking clothes can speed up the evaporation of sweat from the body, which is how humans naturally stay cool, there is a limit to how much relief such passive cooling provides, said Barker, who heads North Carolina’s Textile Protection and Comfort Center.
This summer, Columbia Sportswear released a new sweatshirt with its updated Omni-Freeze Zero Ice fabric, combining “active” technology with wicking properties and a print it says absorbs sweat.
Creating new styles for hot environments will “remain an area of focus,” Haskhell Beckham, the company’s vice president for innovation, told Reuters.
Other retailers have turned to similar fabrics, including those from Atlanta-based textile manufacturer brrr that embed cooling minerals.
Brrr works with 47 brands — including Adidas, which launched golf polo shirts using its material in March — and has at least doubled production since 2018, according to its Vice President of Sales Julie Brown.
While many garments with brrr fabrics target hot summers, there’s growing demand for modified base layers and cold-weather clothing as more shoppers experience unseasonably warm winters, Brown added.
“If you’re out walking or hiking or skiing, a lot of people want that cooling effect, even in wintertime,” she said.
Isuzu to sponsor SA Fashion Week
Isuzu Motors South Africa will be Fashion Week’s official motor vehicle partner for the next two years, until July 2025.
The collaboration marks a significant milestone for both the automotive giant and the renowned fashion event, combining the essence of innovation, style, and creativity.
By partnering with SA Fashion Week, Isuzu aims to explore new avenues and showcase its range of vehicles.
“We are thrilled to be the official motor vehicle partner of SA Fashion Week,” says Ziphindiwe Ngcobo, department executive: marketing.
“This collaboration embodies the spirit of both our brands, as we share a dedication to innovation with purpose, sustainability, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. We look forward to supporting the creative talents within the South African fashion industry.”
“SA Fashion Week is delighted to welcome Isuzu as our official motor vehicle Partner,” says Lucilla Booyzen, CEO of South African Fashion Week.
“This sponsorship opens up exciting opportunities for the fashion community and demonstrates Isuzu’s commitment to empowering the creative industry. We believe this partnership will be mutually beneficial, leaving an indelible mark on the future of both fashion and automotive landscapes.”
As part of the sponsorship agreement, Isuzu will have the exclusive naming rights to one show per season, amplifying its brand presence during the event. By aligning with the SA Fashion Week brand, Isuzu aims to connect with fashion enthusiasts, influencers, and potential customers who share the same passion for style, elegance, and craftsmanship.
SA Fashion Week takes place at the Mall of Africa on 19-21 October 2023.
Tinyoni’s Inspiring Clothing Initiative Takes Center Stage in Mpumalanga
By Mitch Mitchell
Church Unlimited is set to host an extraordinary and heartwarming fashion show, spotlighting the incredible craftsmanship of unemployed ladies from the Tinyoni initiative. The event will take place on September 16, 2023, at 5:00 pm at Church Unlimited, Nelspruit, and promises to be an evening of creativity, empowerment, and community support.
Tinyoni is a revolutionary initiative which has been diligently training unemployed ladies for the past 5 years in the art of clothing production, equipping them with valuable skills and providing opportunities for economic independence. The upcoming fashion show, a testament to their hard work and talent, will feature a stunning collection of clothes entirely created by the trainees themselves.
One of the highlights of the evening will be the unique auction where attendees can bid on the exquisite clothing pieces displayed on the runway. By participating in the auction, patrons will not only have the chance to own a one-of-a-kind garment but also contribute to the advancement of a significant social cause.
As a testament to the belief in the transformative power of creativity, the event will also host a captivating night market. Patrons can explore a diverse array of handcrafted goods, supporting local artisans and entrepreneurs. The night market will further emphasize the importance of community empowerment and the fostering of homegrown talent.
“We are thrilled to host this exceptional fashion show and night market in partnership with Tinyoni,” said Etienne Garnett-Bennett of Church Unlimited. “Through this event, we aim to shine a spotlight on the remarkable talent of these trainees and provide a platform for their creations to be celebrated and appreciated by the community. We invite everyone to join us on this inspiring journey of empowerment and fashion.”
Entry to this extraordinary event will be priced at R150 per person, and it includes a sumptuous meal for all attendees. Tickets are available for purchase online at https://events.crowd9.co.za/1FNG1L.
For further inquiries and additional information, interested parties can contact Hermien at 064 751 6254.
Don’t miss the opportunity to witness a fashion show that makes a difference, celebrating creativity, empowerment, and the potential to transform lives. Let’s come together as a community and support the Tinyoni initiative’s tireless efforts in uplifting unemployed ladies in Nelspruit.
Join us at Church Unlimited on September 16, 2023, at 5:00 pm, and be part of a truly exceptional event.
Fashion, Lifestyle, Trends
Mr Price – board changes
Mark Stirton will step down as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Mr Price with effect from 31 July 2023 on mutually agreed terms. He will however remain with the group until March 2024 to facilitate a comprehensive handover of his duties.
The Board has appointed Praneel Nundkumar as CFO effective 1 August 2023.
Woolworths – trading update and trading statement
The WHL Group disposed of its David Jones operations, effective 27 March 2023. David Jones will be reported as a discontinued operation in the Group’s full-year results. Sales grew by 9.2% in the second half of the year (‘H2’ or ‘half’), notwithstanding the impacts of rising inflation and interest rates in both geographies.
EPS, HEPS and Adjusted diluted HEPS for Continuing operations for the current year are expected to be within the ranges reflected below:
25 June 2023 expected range
*EPS – 10.0% to 20.0%; 401.7c to 438.2c
*HEPS – 10.0% to 20.0%; 405.6c to 442.4c
adHEPS – 10.0% to 20.0%; 396.2c to 432.2c
The Group’s results for the year are expected to be released on or about the 30th of August 2023.
Both the pencil skirt and the A-line skirt were designed by Frenchman Christian Dior, who is singlehandedly credited with inspiring 1950s fashion
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