JOURNEY INTO THE FUTURE

Numéro Berlin talked with UYN about sportswear, biotech lines, new materials and innovation.
First of all, why is sportswear such an interesting spectrum?

The sportswear sector, unlike the Fashion world, is rooted in functionality: the product must not only be aesthetically pleasing, but must possess high performance. Fashion passes: it comes, it goes, it returns. Functionality is a continuous progress towards ever better performance. This is why the sportswear sector is interesting to us, because it responds to our company’s DNA of continuing to search for ever better performing and sustainable solutions.

“Everyone can find the products in UYN that suit them. From Olympic champions to simple lovers of an active lifestyle.”
The philosophy of uyn is: “Unleash Your Nature” – can you elaborate on the meaning?

In our motto, every word has a meaning and together they help tell our vision. “Unleash” relates to the concept of freedom: feeling free, without constraints, when doing the activity you enjoy most. “Your” indicates a personal experience. Everyone can find the products in UYN that suit them. From Olympic champions to simple lovers of an active lifestyle. “Nature” stands for human nature, but also for the nature that surrounds us. It means expressing oneself through free movement and feeling in harmony with the environment. Performance and sustainability are our two great pillars.

You are focused on biotech lines – what exactly does that mean and how would you explain biotech as such?

Biotech is derived from the union of two Greek words: ‘bios’, meaning life, and ‘techné’, meaning art. We have chosen this term to refer to our new collections that are made with organic-based fibres, empowered through our proprietary technologies to achieve better performance in strength, drying speed and breathability. Biotech is the first step into the post-synthetic era for sportswear: giving up fibres derived from fossil fuels with a high environmental impact in favour of new-generation fibres made from renewable natural ingredients (maize, castor beans, eucalyptus wood, beech wood, cotton waste…).

“We have also developed Ecolypt, a yarn from the Eucalyptus plant that absorbs sweat and neutralises odours, Natex, a bio-polyamide derived from castor oil, which is 50% faster drying and 25% lighter than traditional polyamide.”
Which biomaterials do you prefer to use in UYN’s AW23 collection and what are you planning for SS24?

The biomaterials we have developed for the winter collection are diversified, and their sophisticated combination and engineering give origin to high-performance products. For technical underwear and socks we have introduced kapok, the world’s lightest natural fibre. This fibre has a hollow structure and is composed of 80 per cent air, so it provides the garments with high insulation power and superior softness. It is no coincidence that kapok is also known as vegetable wool. Kapok is used in combination with Biolight, a strong and breathable yarn derived from beech wood. We have also developed Ecolypt, a yarn from the Eucalyptus plant that absorbs sweat and neutralises odours, Natex, a bio-polyamide derived from castor oil, which is 50% faster drying and 25% lighter than traditional polyamide. Finally, instead of elastane, we have introduced Flexicorn, a yarn derived from maize seeds that has elasticity characteristics.

 

Currently, we have launched three lines of technical underwear made from 99% biomaterials. For spring/summer 2024, we have already developed a new shirt line with 100% bio-based fibres. These shirts would be more correct to call them Self-Layer as they combine the functionality of an underwear, to be worn next to the skin, and the look of a jersey for outdoor activities. The main material from which they are made is Coolth_Sl, a yarn from cotton linters. Linters are the thin filaments that wrap around the cotton seed and are usually discarded because they cannot be spun. We use them to create a fibre that has a high capacity to wick away sweat, is very soft, biodegradable and compostable.

“Studies by the Cerism centre of the University of Verona have shown that our shirt construction exerts less pressure on the shoulders (in both resting and moving conditions), which translates into a greater feeling of comfort and freedom.”
How do you find new materials in general?

Research into new biomaterials is the result of the efforts of our AREAS laboratory. Technicians and bioengineers select the most suitable materials, then combine the fibres with each other in the right mix according to the properties to be obtained and the type of product. The resulting combined yarn is unique to us, which concentrates our research and technology.

Sportswear is probably the clothing that has to withstand the most movement. What aspects do you pay particular attention to in the design process?

Freedom of movement, as our motto shows, is a fundamental aspect of product design. For this reason, we have developed and patented the Hypermotion shoulder construction system. Hypermotion means making shoulders and sleeves from a single piece of fabric, eliminating seams in the movement zones. Studies by the Cerism centre of the University of Verona have shown that our shirt construction exerts less pressure on the shoulders (in both resting and moving conditions), which translates into a greater feeling of comfort and freedom.

Speaking in terms of wear resistance, thanks to our three-dimensional technology, we are able to create zones with a denser fabric structure to protect the joints and resist more movement, without sacrificing comfort.

“The main objective of the entire innovation process is the perfect combination of performance and sustainability.”
Looking to the future, what are your biggest goals when it comes to innovation? And how do you approach them?

The main objective of the entire innovation process is the perfect combination of performance and sustainability. At the moment we can have a good balance: using natural and bio-based fibres that on the whole achieve performance comparable with synthetic fibres in certain respects, but research will lead us to products with a much reduced impact on the environment and superior thermo-regulation and resistance performance. We strongly believe in this, to the point that we decided to establish our own research and development centre, AREAS (Academy for Research and Engineering in Apparel and Sport), which is a creative hub where scholars and experts from all over the world can come together to bring disruptive ideas to life. 

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