Julien Born, CEO of The LYCRA Company | Photo courtesy of LYCRA
As of Friday, August 5, 2022
When it comes to wearing clothes, one of the highest virtues is simplicity. When it comes to making them, it’s efficiency. And now The LYCRA Company, the global textile giant, plans to make that a lot easier for designers thanks to a new partnership with Browzwear, a pioneer of 3D software for the apparel industry. The announcement came in July and is part of LYCRA’s newfound commitment to innovation in the wake of troubling times that have nothing to do with a global pandemic.
In 2019, LYCRA was acquired by a large but debt-ridden Chinese company and things did not go well. The company’s creditors swapped debt for equity, thereby acquiring majority ownership of LYCRA. LYCRA was recently taken over by a new group of investors, ostensibly more altruistic, who hope in the next few years to find a proper buyer for the company, which employs 3,000 workers worldwide and generates approximately $1 billion in annual revenues.
“It’s been a difficult time as myself and the management team took a lot on our shoulders,” said Julien Born, who was appointed CEO of LYCRA in April 2021 after serving at the company since 2007. “There was concern about us from vendors and customers because of all the uncertainty. But in the end we see it all as a positive and have been able to lay out a pretty strong vision for our company, which is to emphasize what differentiates us from other textile companies.”
That includes being a hugely multifaceted and truly global company with a variety of commercial networks and a research-and-development department producing constant innovations that have resulted in over 800 patents so far. The Chinese owners failed to see LYCRA’s uniqueness and attempted to turn it into just another textile manufacturer, Born says.
“And at the end of the day we’re a company with a great manufacturing background. But most of our competitors are Asian and without much differentiation in value, while we’re more of a solutions provider to retailers and brands, and the LYCRA brand itself is probably one of the two most recognized textile-brand franchises, known by 80 percent to 90 percent of relevant consumers.”
LYCRA is also more than a little familiar to designers, patternmakers and fabric manufacturers, who are always looking for ways to increase efficiency in the design process only to find that many solutions are labor intensive and nonsustainable. The new partnership with Browzwear will allow customers to digitally create activewear, denim, swimwear, ready-to-wear and intimate-apparel fashions that include LYCRA fibers and can be sourced directly from one of 15 global mills.
“Browzwear has very interesting software that more retailers are using because of its really true-to-life visualization of garments,” said Born. LYCRA will be incorporated into the platform with a special section where designers will be able to choose from a vast certified fabric library to build avatars. “From there the collaboration will evolve into more knowledge sharing and things that we can develop together to combine our science of fit with their science of 3D visualization,” added Born. “The genesis of this relationship is our desire to leverage our global presence and reach across the value chain and deliver via a digital platform in a way that will appeal to smaller retailers and brands as well as the larger ones.”
Creating digital garments via Browzwear streamlines the production process and reduces the need to manufacture samples, saving time and reducing waste for more-efficient and sustainable operations. When paired with fibers that are designed to increase durability and garment life, LYCRA states, the partnership will have an outsized impact on elevating the fashion industry’s sustainability efforts.
Founded in 1999, Browzwear is a pioneer in digital solutions for the fashion industry. For technical designers and patternmakers, Browzwear rapidly fits graded garments with accurate, true-motion material replication, while Browzwear’s Tech Pack provides manufacturers with the tools they need to produce physical garments perfectly the first time and at every step from design to production. The goal is to help apparel companies sell more while manufacturing less, increasing both ecologic and economic sustainability.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with LYCRA and enable our users to leverage its well-known performance fibers to better incorporate them into designs faster, easier and more sustainably,” said Avihay Feld, Browzwear co-founder and CEO. “We believe this partnership will drive positive impact throughout the industry by helping brands and retailers operate a more sustainable, efficient development process.”
The partnership also further’s LYCRA’s commitment to sustainable practices, which include offering a variety of fiber and fabric solutions that reduce or divert waste and keep materials in use longer. Creating digital garments via Browzwear will streamline the production process and reduce the need to manufacture samples. “Innovation is in our DNA, and we constantly look at new ways to create value for our mill customers, brands and retail partners,” said Born. “Digital transformation and sustainability offer opportunities but also stretch our approach to innovation as fast and meaningful advances in those areas cannot be achieved alone.
“In teaming up with Browzwear, we are taking an important step in that direction,” Born continued, “with the goal of ultimately changing the way the apparel industry will engage and interact digitally to optimize the sourcing of high-quality fabrics that extend garment wear life and reduce the need for samples.”