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(February 6, 2023)
Polartec®, a Milliken & Company brand, announces Polartec® Shed Less Fleece, a new milestone in its industry-leading efforts to reduce textile fiber fragment shedding. Shed Less is a process that combines yarn construction, knitting, chemistry, and manufacturing to reduce home laundry fiber fragment shedding by an average of 85%. The first fabric to receive this new technology is the brand’s iconic Polartec® 200 Series Fleece, the modern version of the original PolarFleece® launched in 1981, and in 1993, the first performance fleece knit from yarn made from recycled plastic bottles.
The Shed Less process works by engineering the lofted fibers that give fleece its soft hand the ability to resist breaking and rubbing off during home laundering, cited as one contributing factor to the spread of fibers fragments (commonly referred to as microfibers). Polartec® Shed Less Fleece achieves this remarkable outcome while maintaining all of the attributes that continue to make Polartec fleece a staple of midlayer collections - lightweight, breathable and warm, with unmatched softness and hand feel.
“Polartec has a long tradition of EcoEngineering its products to reduce their environmental footprint,” said Ramesh Kesh, PhD, Senior Vice President Milliken & Company. “Shed Less is the latest progression of these efforts and the result of many years of research and development.”
The brand used the AATCC (American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists) TM212-2021 test method for fiber fragment release during home laundering. This test was conducted with large sample sizes to account for variability. The testing concluded that Shed Less Fleece reduced fiber fragment shedding by an average of 85% compared to the baseline fabric.
“In 2016 we began looking into how we might test for fiber loss because there wasn’t a lot of research on the issue.” said Aimee LaValley, Polartec Textile Development, Dye and Chemistry Manager. “This led to new products like Polartec Power Air™, new manufacturing processes, as well as our participation in the TextileMission workgroup to study the issue on an interdisciplinary basis.”
TextileMission was a three year collaborative initiative of academia and industry to reduce the impact of textile microplastics funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Founding partners include The Association of the German Sporting Goods Industry, Hochschule Niederrhein - University of Applied Science; TU Dresden - Institute of Water Chemistry; Vaude Sport; WWF Germany; Adidas AG; Henkel AG; Miele & CIE; and Polartec, LLC.
Known for pioneering the use of recycled materials in performance knits, Polartec has also EcoEngineered new processes at its plants to reduce the spread of fiber fragments, including the installation of customized vacuum and filtering systems for all surface finishing machinery, and upcycling all captured fabric waste for reuse in other products. These efforts also extend to other product innovations such as 2018’s Polartec Power Air, constructed to contain lofted fibers in order to prevent breakage and maintain heat retention.
“While performance fabrics contribute a small percentage of the fibers fragments shed by the global textile industry, Polartec has been researching root causes and mitigation strategies for many years,” said Dr. Kesh. “Shed Less Fleece is a natural progression of this curiosity toward our goal of reducing fiber fragment shedding to near zero in all of our performance fabrics.”
Polartec® Shed Less Fleece will be initially launched in the United States and will be available to customers beginning March 1, 2023. The brand plans to apply the Shed Less process to many other industry-leading fabric platforms and manufacturing facilities around the world.
Since inventing the original PolarFleece in 1981, Polartec engineers continue to advance the science of fabric by creating problem solving technologies that improve the user experience. They are the only company on the market who develops and manufactures comprehensive solutions encompassing base layer, mid layer, and outer layer under one brand, offering a wide range of functionality; including lightweight wicking and cooling, warmth and insulation, breathable weather protection, fire resistance, and enhanced durability. Polartec products are used by performance, lifestyle, and workwear brands from around the world, the U.S. Military and allied militaries, and contract upholstery markets.