The Lycra Company has recently named Steve Stewart its new chief innovation officer. Stewart, in his newly created role, will be responsible for its integrated technology and strategic marketing teams and tasked with accelerating the impact of innovative products and platforms for brands and retailers.
Prior to this role, Stewart served as apparel vice president-Asia, responsible for business and operations there, including Greater China, Singapore, Japan, Korea, India and other Asian countries, and previously commercial director, North Asia, and global marketing director for intimate apparel, swimwear and active outdoor. With over 25 years of experience in the textile fiber and apparel business, before his career with Invista and The Lycra Company, he worked for Boeing, Dupont, and WL Gore & Associates.
Stewart recently shared his targets and market vision.
What areas of The Lycra Company will you be most focused on?
As chief innovation officer, I am responsible for the company’s global technical and strategic marketing capabilities. My team is tasked to accelerate the pace and impact of innovative products from The Lycra Company for the brands, retailers and consumers who use our differentiated offerings. Together with my integrated global team of experts, we are focused on driving differentiation with innovative fiber solutions across our portfolio of brands: Lycra, Coolmax and Thermolite.
What do you want to achieve in your role?
For over 60 years, innovation which is backed by our unique market insights has been at the core of our business. It remains critical to brands and retailers today as they look to further differentiate their offerings in the marketplace. That’s why we commission proprietary market research and consumer insights to identify and respond to our customers’ needs. We specifically look for pain points that can be solved with new or improved products or processes that can add value to our customers. Once developed, our scientists work closely with our global mill customers to commercialize the offering in fabrics and garments that can then be used by brands and retailers.
We also develop proprietary and rigorous testing standards backed by science to ensure fabrics and garments perform as expected and are eligible for our branding.
We succeed when brands and retailers see us as a strategic partner that can help them achieve leading positions in their markets.
How will the fashion and apparel market evolve in the future?
We will see even greater importance placed on megatrends like sustainability and comfort. Consumers’ appreciation for comfort and fit has only intensified during Covid-19, as a more relaxed dressing style has been adopted by people working from home. The pandemic has also fundamentally changed how consumers behave and shop. This will undoubtedly influence how garments are designed in the future, as consumers continue to place more emphasis on functionality and performance features.
For instance, garment durability is more relevant than ever to today’s environmentally conscious consumer, who is committed to a more sustainable future. As a result, brands and retailers place a value on fabrics made with quality technology solutions that provide long-lasting performance. We offer a range of products that delivers these benefits, including Lycra DualFX technology that helps jeans stay looking new longer with best-in-class shape retention; Lycra Xtra Life fiber delivers a long-lasting fit across denim, swim, and activewear; and Lycra Anti-Slip fiber, our most recent denim fiber innovation, is an exceptional seam slippage solution for single-core spandex fabrics that require durable stretch and good recovery power. With Lycra Anti-Slip fiber, consumers can have super stretch jeans that last longer while still maintaining the fit and shape.
In addition to garment durability, we are well-positioned to address comfort trends with our portfolio of differentiated fit solutions, including our newest stretch fiber that provides a comfortable fit for a variety of body shapes in a given size. By offering a wider fit range, these innovations directly address unmet consumer needs around fit while helping brands potentially reduce returns, which is especially important for online sales.
What in particular will characterize the future of the denim and sportswear markets?
Sustainability will continue to be a priority as the notion of conscious consumption grows. With the ongoing pandemic and more consumers working from home than ever before, we will continue to see the shift towards more comfortable, casual athleisure clothing. The momentum will continue for e-commerce as more digitization is expected across the industry, creating a more seamless blend of online and offline shopping.