Antiviral functions have long been known to be used in health and sports fields.
Although antiviral functions are considered unnecessary in fashion, this has changed since the epidemic.
It is now clear that clothing can be used as a protective shield against invisible enemies such as viruses and bacteria.
Workwear is also used in regular healthcare and sports collections to avoid bacterial growth and unpleasant odors.
In view of Covid-19, these technologies have been further improved and adapted in recent months.
Several textile chemistry companies have launched new or further developed antiviral finishes at a tremendous pace, such as- Polygiene from Sweden with its “ViralOff” finish, HeiQ from Switzerland with its “Viroblock” technology, Affix Labs from Finland with “Si-Quat,” Devan from Belgium with “Bi-Ome AV” and Toray from Japan with “Makspec V.”
All manufacturers promise that their products can kill a variety of viruses and bacteria within minutes or hours.
In this way the garments do not protect the wearer from the penetration of harmful germs, but the germs are actively eliminated by the garments, making them harmless to everyone.
After an initial wave of antiviral face masks released by Maloja, Mammut, or Burberry.
Some fashion companies began to integrate antiviral products into their collections or even treat entire categories with them.
Just a few weeks after the pandemic broke out, Italian denim brand Diesel launched its first antiviral jeans for the F/S 2021 season, using Polygiene’s “ViralOff” finish.
Similarly, denim brands DL1961 and Warp + Weft have teamed up with HeiQ to give all future denim models HeiQ “Viroblock” antiviral treatment.
Also, the same is true for menswear supplier Monobi Fashion of Italy who is using it to add antivirals to jackets and jumpsuits.
In October 2020, a startup called BioRomper also launched in the U.S. with a single product which is an antimicrobial jumpsuit designed to prevent surface contamination while traveling.
Chief Marketing Officer Hoi Kwan Lam of HeiQ said, “We will probably have to get used to living with the threat of viral infections, which means using protective clothing will have to become a part of our daily lives.”
This fact has not gone unnoticed by brands who are now jumping on the bandwagon in growing numbers and adding antiviral protective gear to their textile products, he added.
Meanwhile, different legal frameworks in different countries speak out against antiviral fashion internationally. As a result not every product is internationally approved.
Toray’s “Makspec V” antiviral finish, for example, has only been approved in Japan so far, but is expected to be used in international collections soon.
“We have received positive responses from Japanese garment manufacturers, mainly for uniforms worn by staff in hospitals, hotels, restaurants and other hospitality businesses, as well as educational institutions,” says Toray’s Taira Kurosawa.
They believe that, the use of antiviral materials in uniforms for the service and hospitality industries will increase in the future.
Most finishes survive around 30 washes, after which they lose their effectiveness if not refreshed. To enable consumers to do this themselves, manufacturers such as HeiQ and Affix have developed sprays.
In this form, they can also become interesting for fashion retailers. As per studies viruses can remain active on the textile surface for two days or more at room temperature, that is why in some countries, such as the UK, it is now mandatory to ‘quarantine’ garments after each fitting.
Carlo Centonze, co-founder and CEO of HeiQ said, “At the request of many of our customers, we have turned HeiQ ‘Viroblock’ into a spray they can use in their stores to ‘clean’ products after touching or trying them on.” The sprays adhere to many surfaces, not just clothing.”
As a result, their applications extend far beyond the apparel industry from automotive interiors to mattresses, bedding, curtains and tablecloths in the hospitality industry.
The fact is that the pandemic has significantly changed our need for protection. The fight against viruses and bacteria is now also taking place on textile surfaces.