Unleashing the Potential of Stretch Fabric: TENCEL™ Lyocell Fibers with Innovative Processing Techniques

TENCEL Lyocell fibers with stretch properties
TENCEL Lyocell fibers with stretch properties

Stretch fabric is a term that echoes frequently in today’s fashion and textiles. From yoga pants to jeans to activewear, stretch fabrics provide comfort, mobility, and style. The defining characteristic of this fabric is its ability to stretch and spring back to the original shape without breakage or damage, thanks to the unique properties of its fibers.

There are two-way and four-way stretch fabrics. The former, also known as single-axis stretch, stretches in one direction at a time, either lengthwise or widthwise. It runs through the tissue from selvage to selvage, the edges of the material formed to refrain the fabric from unraveling. The two-way stretch fabric is commonly used in denim jeans, fitted blouses and other garments that stretch in one direction only. When it comes to activewear, four-way stretch fabric is prioritized. It is able to stretch lengthwise and widthwise simultaneously, allowing a higher elasticity and a better fit to body and movement.

In the current market, Elastane, also known as spandex, has been a go-to material for creating stretchy clothing. Its exceptional stretchiness, durability and resistance to wrinkles and creases, as well as moisture-wicking and quick-drying properties, render it an integral part of many daily garments. While Elastane serves its purpose well in delivering elasticity, Lenzing sees an opportunity to innovate and further enhance the production of stretch fabric using TENCEL™ branded lyocell fibers that come with planet-friendly benefits [1].

With that in mind, Lenzing has developed an innovative processing technique for TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers, designated for mill and brand partners to create stretch fabrics using the fibers.

Derived from wood, a natural and renewable raw material carefully sourced from responsibly managed forests [2], TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers are certified as biodegradable and compostable [3]. The new processing technique involves re-engineering woven fabric composed of TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers and a fabric pre-treatment. It can produce a stretch fabric with enhanced recovery properties [4] that does not shrink or crease easily. A smooth appearance can be maintained at ease with home laundering [5].

“We are excited to unearth the capability of TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers with this processing technique for our mill and brand partners to produce comfortable, fitting stretch fabrics,” said Rex Mok, Director of Technical Marketing and Development, Global Textiles Business at Lenzing. “It has been our mission to encourage and drive the adoption of eco-friendly fibers. With our recent technical development, we hope the textile and fashion industry to opt for eco-friendly, responsibly-made fibers for producing stretch fabrics, addressing industrial environmental impact.”

To take a step further, Lenzing extends its comprehensive support at the fabric development level to mill partners. TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers-made stretch fabrics meet the international standard for fabric stretch and recovery properties [6]. This quality, eco-friendly alternative to conventional ingredients opens up a world of design and product creation possibilities to Lenzing’s mill and brand partners. With this innovative solution, they are able to respond to the high consumer demand for responsibly produced, comfortable stretchy apparel. The versatility of TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers allows for a wide range of applications, particularly in sectors such as sportswear, athleisure garments, loungewear, and home textiles. The application of TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers also propels accountability and transparency in the value chain with tracing technology incorporated in the fibers.

According to Market Reports World, the global Spandex market was valued at USD 5532.7 million in 2022 and it is expected to arrive at USD 7026.2 million in 2029. This does not only reflect the continuously high and rising consumer demand for stretch fabric, but also the potential long-term damage to the earth. But confidently, with the new processing technique and TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers, made with at least 50% less carbon emissions and water consumption [7], the industry has a strong option of ingredients that enables them to cater to the market while minimizing their ecological footprint.

  1. TENCEL™ Lyocell and Modal fibers are made with at least 50% less carbon emissions and water consumption. Compared to generic (unbranded) lyocell and modal. Results based on LCA standards (ISO 14040/44) and available via Higg MSI (Version 3.7).
  2. The wood used as raw material for all TENCEL™ Lyocell and Modal fibers is sourced from controlled or certified origins meeting FSC® (FSC-C041246) or PEFC (PEFC/06-33-92) standards.
  3. LENZING™ Lyocell and Modal standard fibers are certified by TÜV AUSTRIA as biodegradable in soil, freshwater and marine environments, and compostable under home and industrial conditions.
  4. Data from SGS Report No SL12100263549701TX. Material: fabrics made of 100% TENCEL™ Lyocell Ne30 x Ne30 / 98*74.
  5. Data from SGS Report No SL12200348946801TX: Material: fabrics made of 100% LENZING™ Lyocell Ne50 x Ne50 / 116×75.
  6. The “BS EN 14704-1” standard published by the British Standards Institution determines the elasticity of fabrics.
  7. Compared to generic (unbranded) lyocell and modal. The results were calculated according to LCA standards (ISO 14040/44) and are made available via the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (Version 3.7).