Knitting Industry's founder and Editor Billy Hunter is a chartered textile technologist with more than 30 years of experience in knitted textiles manufacturing, knitting machinery, research and development and textiles journalism.
ISPO success for seamless specialist
20th February 2012, Munich
Leading manufacturer of warp knitted seamless (WKS) garments Cifra, which has recently signed a collaboration agreement with circular seamless giant Tefron, exhibited at ISPO in Munich last month for the first time, claiming the show was a resounding success. Cifra says buyers were actually queuing to get on to the company's booth at the 17 hall, 80,000 visitor sportswear and sports equipment show.
This was the first time the Milan based knitter had showcased at a sportswear show, as its focus was until recently, in the intimate apparel and hosiery sectors. Cifra's patented Warp Knitting Seamless (WKS) technology is an alternative to circular knitting seamless production.
In a sensational deal announced last month Cifra and Israel headquartered Tefron, two of the world's market leading manufacturers of knitted seamless apparel, announced they would collaborate to produce a new line of unique lingerie, bodyshapers, posture garments and sportswear products based on Cifra's WKS technology.
Tefron is a leader in circular knitted seamless garment production and under the new agreement Cifra, using its extensive know how in the warp knit seamless field, will jointly design and develop products with Tefron, which will then be knitted at Cifra's modern knitting plant in Verano Brianza, Milan and finished at Tefron's state-of-the-art facilities in Israel.
"Only those who can make innovations and realize new and complex high quality products can globally compete in all markets. We welcome Tefron as our partner and we feel that both companies have a huge opportunity leveraged by this agreement," a delighted Cifra CEO Cesare Citterio said at the time.
Tefron CEO Amit Meridor described the deal as a real commercial breakthrough for both companies.
"This is a commercial breakthrough. With Cifra's technology and our creative and sophisticated production solutions Tefron will be the only and largest player in the world market which offers circular and warp knit seamless solutions. I believe that the exclusive cooperation with Cifra will be a significant stage in the success of both companies," Mr Meridor said.
Tefron lists amongst its customers leading international players such as Hanes Brands, Reebok, Patagonia, GAP, Calvin Klein, Wal-Mart and Victoria's Secret.
Returning from ISPO with a number of orders from new and existing customers and a raft of new enquiries, an excited Cesare Citterio said:
"This was the first time a company using warp knitting seamless technology exhibited at ISPO or any other sportswear show so there was a lot of interest. It was a great success. In fact it was so good that we have already decided to participate at the next ISPO."
"We have also decided to exhibit at the Outdoor show in Friedrichshafen in Germany in July with a much bigger stand together with our new partner Tefron. Customers will find the whole spectrum of seamless possibilities in one place."
Many of Tefron's customers visited the Cifra booth to find out about the potential for new product development using WKS. The response is said to have been extremely encouraging with many international buyers now looking to develop new products with the partnership.
The main area of interest from visitors was for base layer garments in polypropylene microfibre for use in underwear for skiing, the main sport at the winter ISPO. Such garments have quick drying properties as moisture is wicked away from the skin rapidly.
Warp or weft?
According to Cifra's Cesare Citterio many visitors at ISPO were keen to know the difference between circular seamless and its warp knitting seamless technology, and the additional potential which WKS offers. This was particularly the case for Tefron customers as they are used to buying circular seamless products.
Cifra's WKS is based on double needle bar raschel knitting developed in the main by German warp knitting machine builder Karl Mayer. The WKS technology lends itself very well to so called body mapping, where varying structures and/or yarn types can be integrated into garments and positioned accurately to impart special properties such as moisture management, heat management and compression. This facet of the technology will be of real interest to Tefron's international sportswear customer base.
Seamless warp knitting also offers high productivity and fabrics with special stretch and anti-ladder properties. Proof of the importance of the technology came when Italian machine builder Santoni, pioneer and world leader in the development of seamless circular knitting machines, recently entered into the warp knit seamless machinery market.
In June 2008 the Lonati Group owned company, with a weft knitting background, shocked the knitting world when it launched its first ‘user friendly' double needle bar raschel machine for seamless garments, the SDW8. Santoni has been busy developing the technology and Cifra has already invested in two machines.