June 22, 2021

The Lycra Company’s Julien Born wants to ‘advance garment recyclability’

6 min read

The Lycra Company recently announced a series of organizational changes for the company’s global and European management.

It recently appointed Julien Born as president and CEO, following the retirement of David Trerotola.

Along with him, it appointed other managers in leadership positions.

Nicolas Banyols has been promoted to chief commercial officer. In this role, he is responsible for driving business strategy and execution along the global value chain. Commercial leaders in Asia-Pacific, North and Central America, and South America and directors of the company’s nylon and specialty polyester businesses will now report to him.

Arnaud Ruffin has been promoted to vice president, brands and retail, also reporting to Banyols. In this role, Ruffin will oversee global downstream customer processes. He will oversee the EMEA downstream customer teams and provide support to the North America downstream customer team.

Alistair Williamson has been promoted to vice president, EMEA and South Asia, responsible for regional commercial activities to drive long-term value creation, reporting to Banyols.

While being supported by this new management structure, Born explained The Lycra Company’s next goals and ambitions of growth.

How will you lead The Lycra Company in your new role as president and CEO to achieve its new development goals?
Our fiber and fabric innovations have contributed to many important new developments, or even transformations, in the apparel industry over the years, and helped us build powerful brand franchises with Lycra, Coolmax or Thermolite, just to name a few, as well as a broad network of value-chain partners across the world.

I feel that those unique assets and capabilities give The Lycra Company an even greater edge today, as apparel brands and retailers will need to lean increasingly on strategic supply networks to best compete in the era of ESG, digital transformation, and the Covid-19 aftermath.

To achieve our growth goals, we are thus focusing investments on our innovation capabilities and brand franchises, while further expanding collaboration with our mill network, all at the service of brands and retailers. I am very confident in our ability to execute. As examples, we are already excited by several new technologies being scaled up in response to strong market demand, and all our products and services will soon be showcased, along with our mill network, in a new gated digital platform that we expect to generate high market interest.

Jeans with The Lycra Company's Coolmax EcoMade fiber made from 100% textile waste

Jeans with The Lycra Company’s Coolmax EcoMade fiber made from 100% textile waste

What kind of gated platform are you referring to?
The new digital platform is a unique user experience that provides access to all of our brand services, highlights our latest innovations and trends, and provides inspiration for customer collaborations. The gated portion is a marketplace forum that includes exclusive content and provides our global mill network the opportunity to showcase their innovative fabrics as part of a digital library and conduct business with downstream brands and retailers, anytime and anywhere. More to come on this in the months ahead…

Will The Lycra Company focus greater attention on sustainability-minded strategies and products in the near future? If so, how and what targets do you intend to reach?
Sustainability will be a key source of innovation for us in the years to come, and it is embedded in a lot of what we do today as a company.

More specifically, we are focused on doing our part to help advance the circular economy. On the input side, with our EcoMade family of products [also see here and here]–we’re seeing significant interest in both Lycra EcoMade, which was launched last year, and Lycra T400 EcoMade for a more sustainable version of our DualFX technology.

In addition, our new Coolmax and Thermolite EcoMade fibers made from 100% textile waste combine our brands’ equity and performance attributes with the sustainability benefits of our new textile waste recycling technology. Other initiatives we are working on include extending garment wear life and working with third parties to help advance garment recyclability at end of life.

In which countries do you aim to mostly focus on and expand in the next seasons despite the difficult global situation?
Part of our strength is that we are one of the most globally integrated companies in the apparel textile industry, so our focus is first and foremost about maintaining our influence across the value chain. Even when focusing on one particular retail market, it still generally takes global collaboration from our teams across the value chain to deliver. That said, if we want to talk about specific markets, I would say that in Europe, Germany, the UK and Italy are probably the most attractive for us, while Brazil and the US also represent key focus areas. We obviously continue to also invest in Asia, where the retail sector is growing rapidly, with increasing demand for higher-value apparel.

Denim made with Lycra Ecomade fibers

Denim made with Lycra Ecomade fibers

As you spent a significant time in Asia, do you expect that a significant growth will come from those markets in the near future? If so, which countries in particular and why?
Fueled by the rising middle class, we continue to see tremendous growth opportunities in China. It has been at the forefront of our digital transformation, and we have been experimenting for years with social media and e-commerce as we strive to drive brand affinity and engagement with younger consumers. We are now going a step further and have recently formalized a partnership with Alibaba, who will be leveraging our branded innovations and technical expertise to address a growing need for improved garment performance from consumers visiting their platforms. I expect a similar evolution in India in the years to come, with also tremendous opportunities to leverage social media and a rapidly expanding e-commerce sector.

While obviously more mature, Japan and Korea do have a lot of value for performance fabrics, and we continue to see many opportunities working with key retailers in those markets.

In which specific fashion and textile divisions and segments do you foresee higher growth potential?
We have seen increased demand for athleisure and athletic apparel, as consumers opt for comfortable garments while spending more time at home and wanting to stay healthy and active. Likewise, we’ve seen an uptick in our denim business with renewed interest in enhanced comfort and shape retention technologies. We believe these trends will last and represent formidable opportunities as not only brands, but also mass retailers and fast fashion companies, look to differentiate their offerings to remain competitive. As we have a wide portfolio of technical solutions and a strong mill network in those categories, growth has not only come from market demand, but also from share gain.

Could you also briefly explain how the newly appointed managers Nicolas Banyols, Arnaud Ruffin and Alistair Williamson will help the company reach its growth targets?
These are three very experienced and talented leaders, who have an in-depth understanding of our drivers of value and have built long-standing relationships with our customer base, including mills, brands, and retailers, particularly in Europe. They are also very well integrated with all our teams across the world and with key functions such as R&D, marketing or manufacturing, which is very important as it takes strong collaboration to implement our business model. I am excited to see them grow in those roles.

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