In the Loop with Performance Days
The focus topic “Still Physical” presented at the recent virtual Performance Days fair summed up what many in the textile community are feeling these days while at the same time showcasing the latest digital advances. Despite the many challenges experienced during the pandemic, individuals and industry alike have shown resilience, remaining connected to customers and determined to bring innovative, sustainable products to market.
The May show was incorporated within the framework of Performance Days Loop, a digital sourcing platform introduced earlier this year in cooperation with Functional Fabric Fair. The Loop is an example of how technology accelerated to adapt to changes during the past year and now looks to be the way forward as textile companies get back to business post-Covid.
Sustainability was front and center during the fair, with the latest developments for Spring/Summer 2023 highlighted in the Performance Forum, which, like the digital fair, merged with the Loop platform. Main areas of interest included natural fibers that highlight wellbeing aspects, plant-based materials, bio-nylons and bio-based finishings.
3D technology, video animations and U3M files for download are all accessible on the Loop, which currently consists of more than 8,000 products from nearly 200 suppliers. Organizers anticipate this to grow to over 12,000 products in the marketplace from more than 250 international suppliers in the first full season.
This year’s Eco Performance Award went to Utenos Trikotazas for a fully biodegradable, brushed fleece material made of 11 percent hemp, 63 percent organic cotton and 26 percent Tencel. The jury was impressed by an incredibly soft feel, along with such functional properties as odor regulation, warmth and natural UV protection in a sustainable material.
Sustainability also headlined a roster of Expert Talks. A stand out discussion on “Textiles in the Age of Biotech,” provided an overview of new technologies, products and progress happening within this burgeoning field.
While the vision of synthetic biology is better technology with no chemical impact on the environment, performance matters. Panelist Matthias Foessel, CEO and founder of the Swiss company Beyond Surface Technologies (BST) that uses plant seed and microalgae oils to create a new class of textile products, said that its wicking finish with fast dry performance for next to skin applications is commercialized and being sold. Specifically, Patagonia is using BST’s MiDori Biowick textile finishing for synthetics that features a carbon footprint 70 percent lower than petroleum-based technologies. On the drawing board for BST is a PFC-Fee DWR made with microalgae. “It has to have discernible performance beyond what is currently on the market,” explained Foessel. “We are making good progress, coming further along in lab trials.”
The next Performance Days fair is a hybrid winter edition slated for December 1-2, 2021 in Munich. This Fall, Functional Fabric Fairs are scheduled for Shanghai, in September, and Portland, OR, in October.