If you work at a textile mill, you may already know Dr. Tianyi Liao. As a technical & development fellow at The LYCRA Company, he works throughout the value chain to bring new concepts with LYCRA® brand innovations to the denim and wovens markets. In this process, he collaborates with mills to use real-world settings for prove-out and commercialization. But primarily he evaluates the development of performance fibers (stretch and others) and how to use them in fabrics at The LYCRA Company’s Applied Research Center (ARC) in Newark, Delaware, where he’s the resident expert on LYCRA® dualFX® technology.
Throughout his impressive 30-year career, Tianyi has been a full professor, he’s worked in R&D at top labs and mills around the world, and he specializes in stretch wovens for denim and pants. But once you start talking to him, you realize more than anything, he’s a man who loves what he does, and he’s passionate about creating products that make life better.
After spending 20 years working on LYCRA® brand innovations, it’s no wonder he sounds like a proud father when he talks about “his baby,” LYCRA® dualFX® technology. He’s worked on this unique innovation since it was first developed in 2005, so we decided to “Ask the Expert” more about it.
What makes LYCRA® dualFX® technology so unique?
It provides best-in-class shape retention, extra flexibility, lasting comfort, and an exceptional fit. It’s everything a consumer can want in their jeans.
In what types of apparel is it used?
LYCRA® dualFX® technology is primarily covered with cotton and used in denim fabrics to make jeans. It’s very versatile and is suitable for everything from lightweight jean leggings to traditional denim weights. Even extreme distressed looks with heavy abrasion won’t affect its stretch and recovery performance. It is also used in other types of pants such as chinos and khaki’s.
How does it work?
Most stretch denim is core spun with one elastic yarn, which means it stretches, but it can lose its “memory” over time and start sagging and bagging. But LYCRA® dualFX® technology uses two elastic fibers —LYCRA® and LYCRA® T400® fiber. When combined, each fiber performs its own function. One fiber adds stretch and the second ensures it snaps back to its original shape time after time.
Can you talk briefly about the key benefits LYCRA® dualFX® technology offers its different users?
Mills have a wider operating window to make good quality fabrics. They can more easily meet their customers’ requirements for key performance parameters such as fabric stretch, growth and shrinkage.
Brands and retailers will love its versatility. It really stretches the designer’s imagination, delivers lasting performance benefits consumers want, and its backed by outstanding marketing support designed to drive retail sales.
Consumers will enjoy its super stretch and shape retention, its extra flexibility, all-day comfort and exceptional fit. These easy-care jeans resist sag and bag and will deliver lasting performance wear after wear and wash after wash.
Does denim made with LYCRA® dualFX® technology look and feel like real denim?
Yes, absolutely! It has a soft hand and maintains the traditional look and feel of denim—even vintage looks—all while delivering 30% stretch (or more) to jeans.
Is customer feedback important when developing products like LYCRA® dualFX® technology?
Yes, it’s very important. At The LYCRA Company, we believe in continuous improvement and are always working hard to make our products even better. When we learned from our customers that they were having tremendous issues with high stretch fabrics, we said “How can we make this better?” We worked with our customers to prove out our hypothesis that adding T400® fiber into the yarn could really make a difference. The resulting product has truly revolutionized denim.
What kind of feedback do you get about LYCRA® dualFX® technology today?
Overall, people really love it! And it’s popular everywhere—not just in one market. It feels great to hear from industry people that “it’s so great and easy to use,” or “it’s made our life so much easier.”
How does choosing a specific fiber make life easier for mills or brands and retailers?
Managing complaints and product returns can be a headache for them. We know that when consumers purchase jeans made with LYCRA® dualFX® technology there are fewer complaints. When customers are satisfied returns go down and customer loyalty grows. And when more jeans are sold by retailers, more fabric is sold by mills, so LYCRA® dualFX® technology has shown it can really help their bottom line.
Can you talk about the impact this technology has had on the industry?
LYCRA® dualFX® technology has created a new standard for stretch denim and is still a best-in-class innovation with global reach today. Many mills around the world make fabric that’s used by everyone from mass market to premium brands. The LYCRA® dualFX® business brings significant value not just to The LYCRA Company but to all our mill, brand, and retail customers who use it.
What has been the best part of working on this technology?
Research is wonderful, but nothing compares to seeing a product go to market and change people’s lives. Even after all these years, I still get excited when I go into a store and see my baby [LYCRA® dualFX® technology] on the shelf. I’m so happy to see it being used!
LYCRA®, dualFX®, and T400® are trademarks of The LYCRA Company.