Harvesting Style: The LYCRA Company's Latest Breakthrough in Fiber Technology

Harvesting Style: The LYCRA Company's Latest Breakthrough in Fiber Technology

When you think of corn farms in Iowa, fashion may not be the first thing that comes to mind. It is fascinating to consider that the unexpected can inspire and shape the fashion we wear today. Qore® and The LYCRA Company are no strangers to a farm-to-fiber journey, and their latest partnership has us ready to sow the seeds of sustainable fashion. 

According to The LYCRA Company, “The fashion industry and its supply chain are responsible for ten percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions every year– representing a significant call to action for manufacturers and brands to find solutions for better practices.”

LYCRA has been a global leader in developing innovative and sustainable fiber and technology solutions, particularly within the apparel and textile industries. Their portfolio includes fibers like their renowned LYRCA® fiber, COOLMAX® fiber, and THERMOLITE® fiber, among others. 

By collaborating with Qore®, a joint venture between Cargill, a leader in agricultural and fermentation technologies, and HELM, a leading marketer and distributor of chemicals, they are taking that portfolio one step further to produce the fabric of the future.

Qore® has created QIRA®, the key solution to developing the next generation of commercialized bio-derived materials, and the hero of this innovation is none other than farm-grown corn. QIRA® is derived from an annually renewable field of dent corn that isn’t for direct human consumption. Through the collaboration, QIRA® will be developed into renewable LYCRA® fiber that can be used in applications from denim to swimwear, diapers, and intimates. 

“Agriculture is the backbone of QIRA® and is how we can offer a more sustainable alternative to traditional BDO that is derived from finite resources,” said Jon Veldhouse, chief executive officer of Qore®. “The facility to produce QIRA® is being built in central Iowa and will benefit from working closely with our raw material supplier Cargill who promotes continuous improvement in the sustainability of field corn production including more regenerative farming practices.”

The two companies share a vision of delivering sustainable solutions. “Their expertise in operating fermentation processes and understanding of the chemical value chains makes them the ideal partner to help develop a bio-derived LYCRA® fiber at commercial scale,” says Julien Born, chief executive officer of The LYCRA Company. 

Similar to their other fibers' core mission, the renewable LYCRA® fiber with QIRA® will enhance the clothing's comfort, fit, shape, and durability, proving that achieving quality while prioritizing sustainability is possible. WWD highlights, "When compared to spandex made with traditional raw materials, LYCRA® fiber made with QIRA® has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 44 percent.”

Why should LYCRA be on your radar? Not only is it reducing worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and the dependency on fossil fuels, the company holds significant potential for the future of fashion cultivated from the Earth. Their research, partnerships, education, and awareness have positioned them to drive positive change. 

As active consumers, we must stay on top of news within the production and supply chains and be willing to choose natural fibers like LYCRA® when purchasing. We can look forward to the production of QIRA® starting at the end of 2024 in Eddyville, Iowa, and the LYCRA® fiber made with QIRA® following shortly after that in 2025. 

-As always, elevate your wardrobe with respected fashion and embrace the shift in style