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2022 marked the 30th anniversary of the TENCEL™ brand. Harold Weghorst, Global Vice President of Marketing and Branding at Lenzing AG sat down with Florian Heubrandner, Vice President Global Textiles Business to share their vision for the TENCEL™ brand and reflect on TENCEL™’s achievements over the past 30 years, which have enabled the brand to become a key player in shaping the sustainable development of the textile industry.
Harold: It is great to have you here with us, Florian. I want to congratulate all of us at Lenzing and the TENCEL ™ team on achieving this important milestone of our 30-year anniversary. The brand has indeed grown and evolved so much since its launch. What would you say would be your proudest moment in building the TENCEL™ brand over the past 30 years?
Florian: It’s a collection of many little moments, from seeing a TENCEL™ hangtag on a garment in a store or a seeing a TENCEL™ brand tag on an Instagram post – they simply put a smile on my face and make me feel proud of the brand.
Harold: I share the same feeling! Every time I hear consumers say “Oh, this is really my go-to jeans, because it feels so soft, and it's so comfortable” or admit that they love our brands, those are indeed my proudest moments. I think this also speaks to the evolution of TENCEL™ as an ingredient brand that targeted value chain partners including spinners, fabric makers, garment makers, and retailers to become a brand that engages directly with consumers.
Florian: Indeed, this is also in line with our vision for TENCEL™ over the years to come. Not only do we want to put sustainability at the core of what we do, but we also want to continue pushing the boundaries of sustainability and comfort – and doing the best we can do in terms of reducing carbon footprint and increasing recycling. It is a leadership aspiration that the whole team is working towards for the years to come.
Harold: That is great – the sustainability aspects of TENCEL™ branded fibers are one of the key reasons for the adoption of these fibers by our fashion brands and partners. Of course, there are the intrinsic qualities of the fibers which are the softness, the drape, the gentleness to the skin and the comfort it provides. But I would say the key reason for retailers and brands to select TENCEL™ is because of its sustainability credentials.
Florian: This also goes hand in hand with the development of the overall textile industry that I have observed over the past couple of decades. Everything is around circularity and recycling – the industry has finally realized that linear business format is no longer valid, and circular is the way to go. As the textile industry gradually realizes and lives up to its responsibility on its carbon footprint and impact on the environment, I am glad to see that we have been able to tackle this by creating fibers and producing garments in ways that are less harmful to the environment.
Harold: Apart from circularity and recycling, supply chain transparency and traceability are also continuing to gain importance within the industry and especially now to a point that consumers are more conscious about what they buy and what they really need, as a result of the pandemic and the big shift to online retail.
Florian: Exactly! In the past it was not revealed where clothes were made, but now consumers rightfully want to know exactly where their clothes are made. The supply chain is highly fragmented and spread across the globe, so it is a huge challenge but an emerging and important direction that the industry is going towards.
Harold: I do believe TENCEL™ plays an important role in improving the industry's environmental footprint and the transparency of our industry. We also see ourselves as a trailblazer for the environment, by continuing to come up with the best options for the planet. Looking ahead, can you share with us some key initiatives of the TENCEL™ brand?
Florian: One initiative will be around carbon-zero TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers and carbon-zero TENCEL™ Modal fibers which will be made available to more partners across the value chain. Another initiative is around traceability. We offer physical traceability by using our fiber ID technology and at the same time we offer digital traceability which is blockchain enabled. These two will be another key focus for us this year.
Harold: Finally, what are your top tips for consumers who want to lead an eco-friendlier lifestyle?
Florian: My biggest tip is to buy less, and then search for quality garments made with sustainable fibers. I recommend purchasing materials that are biodegradable and low carbon-footprint that ideally contain some recycle share. So, go for quality over quantity, and sustainable options where possible.
Harold: Another tip I would say is to look at the label and be aware of what you are buying. Consumers can also get guidance, if you look on our website www.makeitfeelright.com where you can find an overview of the different sustainable options available. On that note, thank you Florian – I really enjoyed our discussion and I look forward to working closely with the TENCEL™ team to celebrate our next key milestone.