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KNIT IDEAS

PYRATES’ natural fabrics unite function, sustainability

Rachel Raineri

Posted July 30, 2020

 

By Rachel Raineri

International correspondent

 

While our technology, processes and ideas are developing and improving to create a more efficient, accessible and better way of life, some designers and producers in the textile sector believe the garments we come into contact with every day should also support a better way of life.

 

For Regina Polanco, founder and CEO of PYRATES Smart Fabrics of Spain, this is translated into the creation and development of garments that actively support the health and wellbeing of the wearer, while also protecting the source from which we develop those garments.

 

PYRATES mission, thus, is to work with nature and our planet to bring forth a new technology that benefits the skin and body while maintaining its functionality as a product, its aesthetic as a vessel of fashion and its sustainability. In this way, PYRATES now produces six different types of fabric within their PYRATEX® range, which are all both natural and functional and each offering different benefits to improve health and wellbeing. Their natural fibers are made from materials such as bamboo, seaweed, organic cotton and biowastes such as corn and hemp.

 

The company was born in 2014 with the original idea being an athleisure fashion brand; however, Polanco quickly became aware that the unity between function and sustainability was not as refined as it could be in the textile sector. Most available fabrics were either functional, but synthetic or natural but without desired properties of functionality. With this realization, PYRATES transformed into an R&D company, spending three years in collaboration with textile labs throughout Europe and, ultimately, developing their first five knit fabrics that were both natural and functional.

 

In terms of sustainability, they assure that their fibers and fabrics are certified as REACH, bluesign or Tessile e Salute, and utilize fibers that are vegetal, recycled or biodegradable. They do not, however, seek to define themselves as a sustainable company, but rather see it as a natural responsibility as part of the textiles sector, and believe that soon all companies will follow suit. They, instead, partner with nature to create products that simultaneously mimic nature and ensure the least possible harm to it.

 

Diverse collection of certified fabrics

 

PYRATES identifies as an R&D company and a B2B knit fabric provider. They follow the example of companies such as Gore-Tex or Loro Piana by partaking in collaborations with other fashion brands. PYRATES PYRATEX® knit fabric line is all done with a point circular knitting machine. As a brand, they keep their fibers and fabrics as locally sourced as possible to keep tight control over their supply chain and therefore their CO2 emissions. In their PYRATEX® range, currently, six different natural fabric lines are offered: health, freshness, cosmetic, upcycled, bio and power.

 

PYRATEX® Health series improves blood circulation and relaxes muscles and consists of a jersey-knit, GOTS-certified cashmere blend and a fleece-knit, GOTS-certified organic cotton blend. The blend is with a proprietary patent-pending vegetal fiber that reflects the infrared radiation emitted by the body and retains heat. Additionally, it emits negative ions, which is credited with improving cell nutrition, relaxation of the muscles, reinforcing collagen and the activation of the immune system. These fabrics also have a UV protection of 50 SPF and are breathable.

 

PYRATEX® Freshness is made from a base of OEKO-TEX-certified cellulose bamboo fiber grown in China. Bamboo fiber is not only a fast-growing, renewable resource, but its cross-section is filled with micro-gaps and micro-holes. This results in a fabric that is 1-2 °C lower than other fabrics and allows for rapid absorption and evaporation of sweat. Additionally, bamboo fiber is naturally antibacterial, reducing odors and skin infections.

 

Another variation of this line blends USDA-certified biobased Seacell, which has been shown through laboratory testing to successfully neurodermatitis and psoriasis. This is made possible by the seaweed fibers anti-oxidative capacity, eliminating free radicals. Seacell seaweed fiber also has a high content of Vitamin E and minerals such as sodium, magnesium or calcium which benefit the skin of the wearer.

 

PYRATEX® Cosmetic series are fabrics made to care for the skin and eliminate free radicals by the use of Seacell fiber. The Seacell fiber is blended with either GOTS-certified organic cotton or Standard 100 OEKO-TEX-certified Tencel® fibers. Tencel has shown the benefits of antibacterial properties and great moisture absorbency as well.

 

PYRATEX® Bio series is made with a base of PLA, which is 100 percent biodegradable under industrial composting conditions. The PLA comes from post-industrial biowaste, most often corn. The fabric holds its integrity under normal conditions but will break down fully when desired in the right conditions.

 

Variations in the series include a blend with hemp and a Refibra blend. Refibra is a lyocell process made fiber from post-industrial waste cotton and wood pulp. The production process is 99.7 percent closed loop. Fabrics in the Bio series contribute 70 percent less CO2  emissions than the production of polyester and are also good moisture conductance.

 

PYRATEX® Upcycled series reduces textile waste by blending GOTS-certified organic cotton with upcycled cotton waste from post-industrial and post-consumer waste collected from all over the world. The fibers are mechanically separated and the new thread is spun in a process that uses 50 percent solar energy, resulting in a fabric that drastically reduces water, energy and CO2 impact.

 

PYRATEX® Power series are made to adapt to the body in every way with its contour-fighting behavior while also being incredibly breathable. Being made primarily of Tencel, these fabrics are antibacterial and have a cooling effect. The addition of a small amount of elastane allows for the material to hug the skin while still being anti-irritant and breathable.

 

Expanding collaborations

 

Although PYRATES began with the intention of being an athleisure brand, by expanding to R&D and serving as a luxury fabric provider, they have widened their potential.

 

They have participated in a wide variety of collaborations from activewear to art-infused fashion, Hijabs, childrenswear, high fashion and maternity clothing. They have in this way made an international presence, working with companies in the U.S., Austria, Poland, France, Italy and more of Europe.

 

One of their favorite collaborations is a recent yoga line in partnership with ASICS titled the SHIZUKA COLLECTION. The collection is made with PYRATEX® power fabric and dyed with natural botanical dyes. The concept of the collection is to enhance yogis' experience connecting with themselves and nature. The use of natural dyes elevates that concept, allowing for the garments to evolve over their lifetime and with each yoga practice, similar to the constant evolution of the human body.

 

Now making face masks

 

In light of the current pandemic, PYRATES also collaborated with Shohei, a ready-to-wear brand with whom they had previously worked, to develop face masks. As masks have become a part of day-to-day wear, they wanted to develop a mask that is both sustainable and beneficial to the wearer beyond the protection against COVID-19. Using a combination of PYRATEX® power I y PYRATEX® health II, they developed a collection of face masks that have SPF 50 protection, enhanced breathability and increased circulation.

 

This collection addresses one large issue with face masks: the discomfort, which causes wearers to remove them or touch their faces more often. PYRATES is also in the process of launching their own face mask collection under their own brand utilizing their PYRATEX® cosmetic II fabric.

 

With a full, and continuously expanding line of both natural and functional luxury knit fabrics, PYRATES contributes evolving and relevant opportunities and possibilities to the textile sector through collaboration and their own branding. As an R&D company dedicated to taking an active part in developing solutions to the problems they see in the textile sector, PYRATES is always looking for new ways to improve their processes and products.

 

About the author

 

Rachel Raineri is a textile engineer and lover of expression. She believes there is no person who cannot show you a new perspective and delights in finding uncommon connections throughout and within life. In fact, human connection is her favorite reason for being alive! She is passionate about sustainability and has experience in integrated wearables and language teaching. After graduating from the N.C. State Wilson College of Textiles in 2018, she has spent the last two years in Valencia, Spain. Lately, Raineri is in absolute raptures over mycelium, the incredible network root system of mushrooms. To learn more you can read her articles on her webpage https://www.rachelraineri.com/. 

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