Moving toward a more sustainable, circular supply chain, Hugo Boss has made a $5 million investment into a first-to-market yarn technology that binds to carbon and removes it from the atmosphere.
Hugo Boss is committed to a more sustainable planet, “we want to be at the forefront when it comes to driving positive change within the fashion industry,” CEO Daniel Grieder said in a statement.
“In light of the natural limitation of resources, we have to fundamentally rethink and reconsider the way we source materials,” he says. “Because if humankind continues on its current path, by 2050 there will be more microplastic in the oceans than fish.” Synthetic fibers are one of the main causes of microplastic pollution in the oceans and one of the most common fibers used in fashion.
The fashion label’s environmental commitments are the impetus behind its recent investment and strategic partnership with HeiQ AeoniQ LLC—a fully owned subsidiary of Swiss innovator HeiQ Plc.
HeiQ produces a cellulose-based yarn that it says matches the performance of polyester and nylon, but marks a market first with a circular, closed-loop recyclable material. Hugo Boss says 80 percent of its products will be circular by 2030.
“Our exciting partnership with HeiQ AeoniQ represents yet another important milestone on our journey towards becoming the leading premium tech-driven fashion platform worldwide,” Grieder says. “Consistent with our bold mission statement ‘We Love Fashion, We Change Fashion,’ this game-changing technology will enable us to further push innovation and sustainability across our brands’ offerings, thereby driving measurable impact for the environment and society alike.”
HeiQ AeoniQ says its fiber is indeed an industry first that not only comes from a sustainable source, but in its growth process, binds to CO2 from the atmosphere in a version of carbon capture. A similar technique has been used by the U.S.-based firm LanzaTech, which uses carbon capture technology to produce fiber used recently by Lululemon and Zara.
According to the brand, fossil fuel-based fibers make up about 60 percent of the global annual textile output—more than 111 million metric tons. The global polyester and nylon markets are valued at more than $135 billion. HeiQ AeoniQ says for every ton of fiber it produces, as much as five tons of CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere.
Scaling up sustainably
The funding from Hugo Boss will help HeiQ AeoniQ scale its technology and speed it to market. It says it will be the first gigafactory in Europe starting from 2024. Its pilot facility for fiber production will be live later this year.
HeiQ AeoniQ also produces its sustainable fiber for Lycra.
“The financial commitments by such prestigious companies as Hugo Boss and The Lycra Company are strong endorsements of HeiQ AeoniQ’s game-changing potential,” Carlo Centonze, co-founder & Group CEO of HeiQ, said in a statement.
“This also demonstrates our ability to commercialize our HeiQ AeoniQ IP, now valued at US$200 million HeiQ AeoniQ yarn is a versatile alternative to polyester and nylon and its climate-positive qualities create a very exciting market opportunity for HeiQ, as fashion brands and retailers come under increasing pressure to do their part in decarbonizing their products and reduce their environmental footprints.”
“Sustainability continues to be a core tenet of The Lycra Company’s strategy as we are focused on providing value-added technologies to help our customers create and develop exceptional fabric and garment offerings while reducing the environmental footprint, without sacrificing comfort or performance,” said Julien Born, CEO at The Lycra Company.
“Through our close collaboration with HeiQ, we are working together to fast-track the commercialization of HeiQ’s AeoniQ yarn and are excited by the impact this ground-breaking innovation will have on the apparel industry.”
Sustainability at Hugo Boss
Hugo Boss says the investment dovetails into its sustainability efforts and its Claim 5 strategy, which launched last August. The Strategy is aimed at making Hugo Boss the premier tech-driven fashion brand focused on sustainability. In 2018 it became the first major fashion label to incorporate Piñatex’s vegan pineapple leather. The plant-based material appeared in a shoe collection. Last year, the brand partnered with actor Chris Hemsworth to front its sustainability efforts.
The label says it is aiming to “strongly increase the proportion of more sustainable materials within its BOSS and HUGO collections over the coming years.” The partnership also moves it closer to its 2030 climate neutrality targets and across its entire value chain by 2045.
“We are all the more encouraged by Hugo Boss becoming an important strategic partner for HeiQ and our innovation platforms,” Centonze said. “Together, we have every confidence in being able to scale the disruptive potential of our unique bio-based HeiQ AeoniQ technology, which contributes strongly to decarbonizing the textile industry and reducing plastic microfiber in our oceans. This will deliver beyond the mission of improving lives of billions of people to improving the lives of countless aquatic organisms.”