Rolling out fabrics that can stand the test of time

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 September, 2007, 12:00am

Clothing is more than about the cut and fit of a garment. Technological breakthroughs in textiles and fabrics have created functional materials that make garments more wearable and comfortable.

Breathable fabrics, or those with deodorising effects, are among the early examples of functional fabrics, which have extended beyond sportswear and underwear to high-end fashion and everyday wear.

Fabrics with multiple functions are now the trend. Interstoff Asia Essential is showcasing many textiles with special properties at its 21st Century Wardrobe display.

They include fabrics that are UV-protective, water-repellent, stain-releasing, anti-static, anti-bacterial, wrinkle-free, electromagnetic-shielding, oil-repellent, cool-feel, moisture-transferring, quick-drying, thermal and lightweight.

The display gives suppliers a high-profile platform to promote their products and offers buyers a one-stop shopping venue for viewing a large collection of functional textiles.

Eco-friendly organic materials such as soy, bamboo, corn and hemp-silk are making their fashion statements. Environmentally friendly treatment processes are making these fabrics softer and more luxurious than ever.

Increasingly, consumers are embracing the new materials as their first choice, rather than an alternative. Brand names such as Victoria's Secret, H&M, Target and Nike are also actively promoting green fashion.

'The whole world is talking about sustainability and green issues so it's very natural that people would want to go in that direction,' said Katy Lam, director of trade fairs at Messe Frankfurt (Hong Kong), which is organising the fair.

The growth of the organic cotton industry is an example. From 2001 to 2005, organic cotton sales globally rose by more than 100 per cent, to US$583million. The Organic Exchange forecasts that sales will top US$2billion next year.

Nike is one of the world's biggest consumers of organic cotton. According to reports, about 52 per cent of its garments last year contained some organic material.