Page 2: Developing a unique fibre
In the world of fashion there is a clear link between the tastes of consumers for materials and garments and the demand for the type of products on offer. Though particular clothing fashions may change not only with the seasons but also from year to year, the materials making up such garments will have a longer product life-cycle. A product life-cycle tracks the life time of a product from development through to maturity. Students who take more than a passing interest in the world of fashion will be familiar with a remarkable new, natural material which began to attract attention on the catwalks back in 1992.
It has been described as the chameleon of fashion - a fibre that feels as soft as velvet yet is stronger than cotton, is comfortable, washable and looks and performs like silk when in fabric form. Its name is TENCEL. It has been developed by the British-based international chemical group Courtaulds, who pioneered viscose rayon, and it is the first new man-made fibre for 30 years.
TENCEL made an immediate impact on the market. It was positioned as a top -of-the-market product. Early recognition by leading designers and fashion houses included some of the best known brand names such as Calvin Klein, Joop!, Georges Rech, John Rocha, Armani, Lacroix, Jean Paul Gaultier and Paul Costelloe. Ferré and Cerruti are also among the fashion icons working with the new material.
The development of TENCEL is an example of Courtaulds initiative in the market-place. Proactive product development involves taking the lead in a market with the launch of innovative products which are completely different from those of competitors. TENCEL’s development from research project to a fibre with sound environmental credentials, destined to be the apparel material of the 21st Century, is a story stretching over a period of many years and involving chemists, engineers, designers and a host of other specialist experts working for Courtaulds and the textile and clothing industries.
This case study focuses upon the translation of an idea into a highly marketable product.
• TENCEL is the trademark for Courtaulds Fibres’ lyocell fibre in certified fabrics and garments.