Innovation in Performance Materials:Q&A with DuPont's Renee Henze
Renee Henze is the Global Marketing Director for DuPont Biomaterials — specific to textiles is Sorona®, an eco-efficient performance fiber found in some of your favorite outdoor apparel brands (think: The North Face, LL Bean, prAna, Royal Robbins, etc.). In addition to developing the strategic marketing direction for the Biomaterials business, Renee leads a global team engaged in the downstream sales and marketing for existing and emerging renewably-resourced technologies. An outdoor enthusiast, Renee holds a BS in Molecular Biology, an MBA in Marketing and Management and a Certificate in Environmental Sustainability from UCLA.
Q: Can you tell us a little about DuPont™ Sorona® Fibers and how they fit into your company’s portfolio of products?
A: Absolutely! At DuPont Biomaterials, our team is dedicated to finding ways to enhance the quality of life through high-performance materials that reduce the environmental impacts of industry. Sorona® polymer is 37-percent bio-based by weight, and in comparison to the processing of Nylon 6, it also uses less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Fibers made with Sorona® polymer bring excellent technical attributes to garments as well — which is key when we’re talking about any fabrics — but is especially important to the outdoor industry, where materials have the capability to really enhance comfort and performance for the wearer. Sorona® is utilized by popular clothing brands to improve a variety of fabric qualities including softness, stretch and recovery, wrinkle resistance and resilience.
Sorona® is being used exceedingly more throughout the industry both because of this long-lasting stretch performance but also its other advantages over spandex
Q: You mention stretch and recovery as a key Sorona® attribute — what makes it unique?
A: One of the outstanding attributes that differentiates Sorona® fibers in the market is their ability to have permanent, mechanical stretch and recovery. Unlike Spandex, Sorona®’s stretch is not lost with number of washes, UV or chlorine exposure. From denim to athleisure to swimwear, Sorona® is being used exceedingly more throughout the industry both because of this long-lasting stretch performance but also its other advantages over spandex, such as dyeability and recyclability. Our mill partners continue to innovate with the fabrics they create, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to show these samples off at our Outdoor Retailer booth.
Q: What trends do you predict for 2019 in the outdoor industry, and how does that shape the way your team works?
A: Advancement in material performance and technology will continue to play a huge role in 2019 trends. Degradable fabrics, higher stretch, long-lasting materials, increased bio-based content fibers, odor prevention incorporated directly into fibers, marine-degradable polymers — the list goes on! As an organization, we are excited about these opportunities, which then influences our Biomaterials R&D goals. Movement around footwear sustainability is also surging in popularity — from uppers, to inserts, to the soles of a shoe, the sky really is the limit in ways footwear can be reimagined to be more eco-conscious. Faux fur and new insulation technology is gaining momentum as well — especially in the European market —, and I expect that it will influence a more global audience in 2019.
This originally ran in the Outdoor Industry News 2019 at the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show. Check out the full print copy here.