Tencel is kicking off the celebrations for its 30th anniversary in 2022. Florian Heubrandner, vice president Global Textiles Business, Lenzing AG, explained to The SPIN OFF how the brand evolved through the last three decades and what its next goals are.
How will Tencel celebrate its 30th anniversary?
We are delighted that the Tencel brand has reached its 30th anniversary. From February 2022 onwards, Tencel’s 30th anniversary celebrations themed “Feel Good Fibers Since 1992” will kick off on tencel.com and feature exciting content and partner activities across multiple regions and channels. Lenzing will also celebrate the milestone at different trade and customer events, as well as collaborations with designers.
Tencel is a manmade cellulosic fiber that has always considered itself eco-friendly. Has Tencel increased its sustainability levels through the years? How?
Since 1992, this brand has strived to empower companies across the textile value chain and encourage the entire fashion and textile industry to adopt more eco-friendly practices. Since then, it has been driving the evolution of fiber solutions for the apparel and home textile segments through several industry-first innovations, environmentally responsible production processes and close collaboration with brands and industry stakeholders.
The Tencel brand is also committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. In 2020, we offered the industry’s first carbon-zero Tencel branded fibers, and the carbon zero offering was quickly extended to our fibers with Refibra technology in 2021. Each of our new textile offerings provides leading eco-credentials in addition to fantastic functional benefits. Our fiber innovations including Lenzing Ecovero fibers and carbon-zero Tencel Lyocell and Modal fibers, for example, are inherently comfortable, high-quality and versatile, as they can be used across a range of applications. For the denim industry, Lenzing has enhanced its sustainable offering with Tencel Modal fibers with Indigo Color technology. The pioneering Indigo Color technology incorporates indigo pigment directly into Tencel Modal fibers using a one-step spun-dyeing process. This delivers superior color fastness relative to conventional indigo dyeing whilst using substantially fewer resources.
Did Tencel also change its characteristics or better its performance? If so, how?
Following the rebranding program in 2018, Tencel evolved from a behind-the-scenes fiber brand embedded within the supply chain into a consumer-facing ingredient brand. This success is now reflected in the collaboration between Tencel and more than 300 brand partners globally in various consumer-centric campaigns. The launch of Tencel eShop in 2021, the first ever e-commerce channel created by a sustainable fiber producer, is a testament to Tencel’s strong relationships with its brand partners and its commitment towards empowering consumers to make more informed purchases.
As part of Tencel’s “digital first” strategy, the brand invested heavily in proprietary technologies to reduce environmental impact during textile production and developed platforms to support stakeholders’ sustainability momentum. From the introduction of fiber identification technology to fabric certification and licensing services offered via the Lenzing E-Branding Service platform, the brand has been a driving force towards full-scale supply chain transparency.
How did the fiber manage gaining higher transparency achievements?
We have created a supply chain traceability platform which incorporates Lenzing E-Branding fabric certificates and a blockchain-enabled traceability platform powered by Textile Genesis. One of the core components of the platform is that it allows brands and retailers not only to access the full supply chain traceability for Tencel and Lenzing Ecovero fibers, but also to view the results of forensic (physical) verification of fabric samples via the digitally signed E-Branding fabric certificates. With this system, the entire Lenzing ecosystem has an unprecedented level of transparency.
How has the market changed its attitude toward this fiber?
The achievements of the Tencel brand across different segments thus far can be largely accredited to the ongoing trust, confidence and support of its supply chain partners without whom this milestone would not have been possible. Looking ahead, cross-sector collaboration between mills, fabric makers, brands and non-governmental organizations will remain a key priority for Tencel and help to further enable supply chain transparency and digitalization of the textile industry.
What will Tencel’s next evolution be? We are thrilled to reach this milestone and are looking forward to driving continuous innovation and building stronger partnerships over the next 30 years and beyond. Anticipating the rising demand from consumer brands for specialty fibers, Lenzing has been strengthening its production capabilities with an ambitious growth plan. Such growth will be fueled by the opening of the world’s largest lyocell production facility in Thailand in early 2022.
In 2022, we will continue to focus on producing carbon-zero innovations that make a difference to the textile and fashion industries. The next decade will see more sustainability-driven innovations unveiled to actualize our 2050 vision. One of our biggest goals will be to further drive circularity in the industry. In a bid to divert more textiles from landfill, we have partnered with wood pulp supplier Södra to scale-up the production of pulp from post-consumer textile waste to make Tencel fibers with Refibra technology.