• just-style / By Beth Wright

Brazil’s Santista developing Covid-free denim treatment

By Ivan Castano Freeman | 17 July 2020

Research is ramping up around the world to provide textiles with antiviral and antibacterial properties

Brazilian textile major Santista Textil is set to launch a new fabric treatment that protects workwear, denim and other apparel from SARS-CoV-2, the strain that causes the novel coronavirus – and sees it as a potential game-changer for its business.

"We have started our first launch," Newton Coelho, Santista's chief commercial officer (CCO), tells just-style. He adds the firm is talking to Brazil's largest department stores and jeanswear brands to test demand for the product, but would not provide specific names. "The idea is to launch this in Brazil first and depending on how it goes, go to the international market."

Santista, owned by Mexico's denim giant Siete Leguas, will likely provide technological transfer and know-how to its parent to help it eventually market the fabric in the US. For now, however, exports will be limited to Latin America and Europe, notably Italy and Portugal.

The new fabric, which has yet to be named, will be treated with a proprietary solution that attaches to its surface. It uses silver and nano-particles as some of its components, dissolving the virus's fat layer and inactivating it, claims Coelho.

Santista developed and tested the product in conjunction with the University of Sao Paulo and the University of Campinas. Coelho says it has limitations, however, noting that denim brands looking to make highly washed and destroyed jeans won't benefit from it. "It has been tested for 30 washing cycles, but if you start using aggressive washes and cutting materials, it's not going to work that well," he noted.

The product will be the first of its kind to launch in Brazil where rivals are also looking at similar solutions, joining a string of global labels eager to make apparel to combat the virus, Coelho says.

If it takes off, it could sharply boost the firm's fortunes.

"This could be a game-changer which we could use for 100% of our fabric [products line], depending on how it's accepted and how critical the virus becomes," Coelho says.

He would not provide a sales estimate but says the product could significantly boost Santista's workwear division, which features cotton, polyester and nylon blends that repel insects and chemicals. Currently, the division accounts for 10-20% of Santista's undisclosed revenues, according to Coelho.

The new fabric is being tested against Sars-Cov-2, but the company is also looking at making a different version to shield against future coronaviruses or viral respiratory illnesses.

Santista will also use the new fabric to make more resistant facemasks and coverings, which are seeing growing demand in Brazil – the pandemic's epicenter with 74,000 deaths and nearly 2m cases.

Research is ramping up around the world to provide textiles with antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Clothing brand Diesel has partnered with Swedish odour control specialist Polygiene on a new denim treatment said to physically halt 99% of any viral activity. HeiQ's Viroblock NPJ03 is also said to reduce 99.99% of human coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Finishing machinery maker Tonello has launched a range of technologies that can sanitise and disinfect garments and accessories, both during production and in the retail store; while denim finishing technology specialist Jeanologia has also developed a sanitisation box that it says is certified to eliminate the coronavirus from textiles, apparel and footwear.

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