Developing a product
A Tencel case study

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Page 4: Targeting large stores

Tencel 3 Image 4TENCEL was initially introduced to the market via a select group of weavers, dyers, finishers and designers, targeting the casualwear and sportswear sectors of the market. Targeting involves identifying a market segment and then developing a marketing mix which is geared to the needs of customers in that segment. The emphasis was on 100 per cent TENCEL products but, as its versatility became increasingly recognised, TENCEL-rich blends with natural fibres such as wool, cotton, linen and silk were developed.

Prices were relatively high in the early days, but TENCEL garments are now available in many UK high street stores such as House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer and Next. In America, shoppers can buy their TENCEL clothing at Saks, Macy’s and Bloomingdales and in Japan prestigious outlets such as Mitsukoshi stock the material. TENCEL quickly gained a high level of acceptance because of its luxurious, soft and comfortable feel - truly a modern fibre, representing harmony between technology and nature.

The environment and TENCEL

The cellulose used to make TENCEL comes from a special grade of woodpulp, harvested from managed forests. As TENCEL is made from natural cellulose it is ecologically sound and fully biodegradable. Cellulose, the chief constituent of plant cell walls, is produced by all plants and is the world’s most abundant organic material.

TENCEL is a ‘cellulosic’ along with linen (made from flax) and cotton (from cotton plantations). They are all from the same natural fibre family. It took a decade to perfect the TENCEL production process, using the best available technology, and it represents a breakthrough in the way cellulosics are made.

The TENCEL process creates little waste as a result of its advanced ‘closed loop’ spinning process. Its organic solvent is constantly recycled and the whole production method has been accredited with the European Eco-tex certification. TENCEL is a fine example of nature and technology working in perfect harmony to produce an outstanding fibre which gives garments a distinctive touch.

Characteristics of TENCEL

TENCEL can be textured or smooth, rugged or refined, in pure form or blended, in indigo or a range of different colours:

  • Touch and feel: its tactile nature is a unique selling point.
  • Movement and fluidity.
  • Weight and bulk: as winter or summer garments, it is light and pleasing to wear.
  • Machine washable: many fabrics in TENCEL are machine washable without losing their aesthetics.
  • Crease recovery: it is often better than traditional fibres in regaining its fresh look after creasing.

One of TENCEL’s most important physical properties is fibrillation where, through controlled abrasive action during the wet finishing or garment dye process, the fibre develops micro-fibrils or small hairs on the surface.

The manipulation of these micro fibrils can be engineered to produce versatile and unique aesthetics, such as peach skin or classic suede effects. Fibrillation is the key to the feel and look of TENCEL; a process which allows the material to appear in more guises than any other previous fibre.

Tencel | Developing a product