Meet Ni Aihong of Luthai Textile
We recently interviewed Ni Aihong, Luthai Textile’s head of design and R&D, and recipient of the Science and Technology Workers of Shandong Province Award of Excellence, to share her expertise in developing the shirting business. Ni is primarily responsible for the R&D of Luthai's new products and has supervised the research of over 200 new products and projects.
Overcoming R&D Challenges
Ni attributes the rapid expansion of Luthai on its focus on the research and development of new materials. Faced by fierce competition in the industry, Luthai decided to speed up its R&D process to gain market share. The company realized it needed the support of a leading global raw materials supplier to meet its ambitious goals—it found The LYCRA Company.
Teaming up to drive shirting innovation
Attracted by The LYCRA Company’s professional attitude and industry-leading innovations that matched its requirements for efficient manufacturing, Luthai began assisting in the research and development of new LYCRA® brand products in 2002. When LYCRA® FREEF!T® technology launched in 2008, both companies decided to collaborate more and formed a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.
Adapting to compete in a global marketplace
In response to intensified market competition over the last 30 years, Luthai has learned the value of adapting quickly to market changes, as well as diversifying and upgrading its offerings. Improvements include upgrading from carded to combed yarn, from ordinary ring spinning to compact spinning, and from medium count to high count and to ultra-high count. Fabrics were upgraded from ironing to non-ironing, from rigid to stretch products, and shirts went from seamed to seamless. In terms of functionalities, the "three proofs" (water-proof, oil-proof and fouling proof) were transformed into "easy care, self-cleaning and self-decontamination," which promotes a healthy and sustainable lifestyle and vividly demonstrates the evolution of modern textile development.
Functional products driven by consumer insights
The technical teams from Luthai and LYCRA® brand have met regularly for years to study market trends and review consumer insights in order to develop market-relevant innovations.
"Today’s sophisticated consumers have greater interest in comfortable stretch and high-tech performance benefits and are moving away from traditional cotton-based shirts that Luthai has been producing for a long time. By working together, we are able to develop differentiated solutions designed to meet consumer needs."
Collaborating to advance the industry
Ni added that the cooperation between Luthai and LYCRA® brand focuses on core yarn, while the work with THERMOLITE® brand products mainly takes the form of blending. Luthai combines cotton with functional polyesters and chemical fibers, integrating the comfort of the former with the functionality of the latter, to allow improved heat retention properties and elasticity, so that the products can better meet the demands of the market.
Luthai and LYCRA® brand have collaborated to further the development of LYCRA® FREEF!T® technology, which produces the largest quantity of shirt fabrics with the most stable quality. This leading technology has been enhanced to deliver easy wash-and-wear performance, lasting stretch and snap back, a soft, cottony hand feel, breathability and lasting comfort.
LYCRA® fiber advances shirting progress
Luthai was the first company in China to develop the liquid ammonia + moist-cure non-ironing finishing technology. By eliminating the effects of liquid ammonia finishing on the micro-structure and macro-properties of cotton fiber, it realized the engineering application of liquid ammonia finishing to the pre-treatment of pure cotton fabrics and pushed the technological progress of the domestic textile industry forward significantly. With the addition of LYCRA® fiber, the fabric’s quality is further stabilized, which offers a great advantage over generic spandex—a much lower strength reduction amplitude. This has also laid a better foundation for Luthai's easy-care products.
Innovating to meet consumer’s needs
Nowadays, consumers not only demand more comfortable stretch products, but also expect more from functional product performance. Thus, Luthai will not only produce low-stretch, medium-stretch, high-stretch and bi-stretch products, but will also continue working with LYCRA® brand to further fuse easy-care and stretch functionality.
“Luthai will do its best to bring consumers more surprises!”
All photos courtesy of Luthai Textile.
LYCRA®, FREEF!T® and THERMOLITE®, are trademarks of The LYCRA Company