Tencel, bamboo charcoal and linen are the top choices as they boost functionality.
Manufacturers of denim fabric in China continue exploring viable fiber combinations under efforts to increase product value.
Despite high costs, cotton is still the most commonly utilized material in the line. This is usually blended with other yarns for improved performance. Models that have Tencel, for instance, are soft and feature better drape. Generated from wood pulp cellulose, the biodegradable fiber is as strong as polyester. It also provides warmth similar to wool and shape retention.
The input's shrinkage rate is less than 3 percent. Denim fabrics may contain 2 to 45 percent Tencel, although suppliers offer releases made solely from the yarn as well.
Bamboo charcoal is another material being mixed with cotton and imparts deodorizing, anti-bacterial, hygroscopic and insulating properties. It typically constitutes 20 to 40 percent of the textile.
In addition, several companies are incorporating linen in their designs. The fiber helps make the fabric drape well and have enhanced moisture permeability. Further, cotton-linen products are resistant to scratching and fire.
The yarn percentage ranges from 2 to 85 percent. A few factories turn out pure linen styles.
Manufacturers still adopt spandex for improved stretch. Lycra is often used in high-end models instead of unbranded elastic fiber. Releases can contain up to 3 percent of the material.
Cotton-polyester variants are also mainstream and priced lower than pure cotton designs. The synthetic increases wrinkle resistance and may compose 15 to 40 percent of the textile.
Most suppliers of denim fabrics in China are OEM-oriented. In general, only the large companies and those catering to the domestic market have in-house R&D. They usually concentrate on modifying texture by varying fiber length and thickness.
The textiles are yarn- or piece-dyed in indigo and black. The level of saturation is adjusted to achieve different shades of blue and gray.
The majority of upscale releases conform to the Oeko-Tex Standard 100.
Prices start at $1 per meter and can reach $8 depending primarily on the fiber composition. Materials account for 70 to 80 percent of production costs. Quotes are further influenced by the yarn density, weight, treatments and embellishments.
Low-end denim fabrics top out at $2 and are often shipped to the Middle East and Southeast Asia. They come in pure cotton and cotton-polyester blends. Some textiles have 1 percent spandex. Carded, combed, mercerized and slub fibers are utilized.
Weighing 4 to 10oz, models adopt a traditional twill construction. Plain-weave chambrays are also available. The density does not exceed 100x60 and the shrinkage rate is about 3 to 5 percent. Single- and 2-color patterns may decorate the fabrics.
Designs in the midrange can contain 2 to 5 percent spandex, 15 to 17 percent polyester, or 40 to 80 percent Tencel or bamboo charcoal. Versions made of 100 percent combed cotton are in this price segment as well. Factories employ mercerized and slub yarns.
At $2.50 to $4.50, chambray, jacquard and knitted styles between 5 and 12oz are typical. They have a density of 80x50 to 120x70. The textiles shrink 4 percent at most.
Products in pure Tencel, linen and ramie are among the most expensive, surpassing $4.50. Models may also come in cotton-spandex with Tencel or wool, cotton-polyester-Tencel-viscose-wool, or 55:45 cotton-linen or hemp-organic cotton. Some suppliers incorporate bamboo charcoal, silk and gold-colored metallic fiber.
High-end denim fabrics weigh 9 to 15oz with density above 100x60. The shrinkage is limited to 3 percent.
Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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