Reinforcements, between sustainability and fashion innovationsAllies of leather goods, reinforcements are products that arise from wisdom, from the art of making and from studying materials and products for which they are intended. They are characterised by a specific attention to quality so that accessories last over time and are always impeccable. Depending on the model, they are generally used in all leather goods, from bags to business briefcases, from wallets to belts, and so on.
As told us by the company Luigi Carnevali, leader in the production of thermo-adhesive fabrics, adhesive tapes, jerseys and thermo-adhesive non-woven fabrics, reinforcement fabrics can start from a very small thickness, up to even be themselves “the soul” and the volume of the product. In the catalogue, Jersey, pol./cot. or 100% cotton canvas and non-woven fabrics are joined by products specifically designed for the leather industry, a market that has been representing a great opportunity and a great challenge for the company since 2015.
Depending on the customer’s needs, Carnevali can create materials with a “round”, soft finishing, or voluminous and padded coat on large leather portions (for example in bags) or smaller ones (small leather goods and accessories) or, again, anti-tear materials and reinforcements for stress points and support points. The new items that are having great success with big fashion brands, are designed to maintain and ennoble the features of the skin, giving a new and extraordinary lightness to the final product. In recent years Carnevali’s microfibre has exponentially increased its numbers, thanks to its competitive drive both in terms of quality, an essential must, and its extremely competitive prices. These two variables – attention to quality in relation to an affordable price – have been reference parameters for the launch of two new microfibres in alternative to the classic proposal: a more rigid type and one with a softer “coat”, both designed and made in order to satisfy an increasingly demanding and attentive customer. In the near future for the company there will be a research of more natural and recyclable materials, as well as an intensification of controls on imported raw materials that are tested in compliance with the European Reach standards.
Sustainability is such a fundamental factor also for Industrie Chimiche Forestali, as to make the new series of biodegradable Forebio reinforcements, coming from renewable sources and extremely versatile in its use. Furthermore, the company based in Marcallo con Casone collaborates with the main manufacturers of bags and leather goods and is able to quickly offer solutions that facilitate the work and allow to follow the guidelines of the brands. In recent times, requests are more focused on reducing the use of harmful substances and increasing the degree of eco-sustainability in products, as in the case of composites made using coupling techniques that avoid the use of solvent-based adhesives, biodegradable thermo-adhesive coatings and products deriving exclusively, or in part, from renewable sources. Specifically, before proposing a new article on the market, ICF carries out all the necessary analyses on the raw materials used in terms of REACH compliance and physical chemical tests according to the raw material used. All the checks on the finished reinforcement are carried out by means of systems integrated in the production line to guarantee steadiness and quality in terms of weight and thickness. In addition, internal laboratories are involved in testing the articles in terms of elongation, breaking load, verification of yellowing by accelerated aging tests on specimens subjected to UV radiation, and accelerated aging tests in a climatic chamber using the Jungle Test. A wide range of reinforcement products, able to satisfy the most specific requests of luxury brands with high-performance and always cutting-edge items, is available for the leather goods sector. In particular, Sahara is a soft support material designed to be coupled with fine leathers of which it enhances the coat allowing the creation of soft models with defined lines, while leading products Rinflex and Tintoretto allow the creation of items with structured shapes and sharp cut processing (formulated to keep the dye on the border), speeding up operations and final yield in terms of quality.
Always in the context of attention to the environment, Tecno Gi, relating to customers in the fashion industry, has felt the need to put beside its flagship products such as double Jersey in various weights and light fabrics with the very soft TAG adhesive, with new eco materials that, on a base of ethical and biological cotton, combine adhesives with biodegradable and often recyclable materials.
Big brands are increasingly looking for softness, thus Tecno Gi has invested in a new hot melt technology with breathable and flexible “dot” adhesive with excellent tensile and tear resistance and great adhesive capabilities (TAG, TAG Special and TMS, both in film and dots).
Almost every day Tecno Gi Plast (Tecno Gi’s production unit) gets from big fashion brands requests for new products that can solve issues arising from the use of various types of leathers, synthetics or innovative fabrics, or originating from a particularly sophisticated design that requires the study of bespoke reinforcements. The laboratory and technicians are constantly looking for new materials and ideas that can expand the already vast range of products. The demand for “green” products is growing in importance and in this regard the company has developed TALYN® (blend of extruded plastics) designed for zero-waste, which is also totally insensitive to moisture (hence undeformable), maintaining mechanical and dimensional features unchanged over time. Every year the use of polymers from renewable sources is gradually increased and part of the energy used is “clean” because it is produced by a solar photovoltaic panel system.
Great attention is then devoted to tests on new products: mechanical-physical (mechanical strength, elongation, breakage, abrasion resistance), colour resistance to light and friction, as well as the certification that all materials are compliant within REACH regulations. The materials are then tested “in the field”, where it is checked whether the new product meets the needs for which it was designed and created, and whether the performances are the desired ones.
Cotton fabrics, jersey knits (also water-repellent or fireproof treated), filling plastics with application of adhesives and thermo-adhesives of various chemical nature (EVA, polyolefin or acrylic, depending on specific requests) as well as breathable articles are the most requested products by the customers of A.P.C. The company based in Vigevano developed the STARTEX article as a leather goods reinforcement, which is used for the construction of some components of bags and is available in different thicknesses (0.5-0.7 and 0.9 mm), all thermo-adhesive: it is a non-woven fabric with molten plastic and different coatings to make it, by choice, thermo-adhesive or self-adhesive. The main feature of this material is its ability to give structure to soft materials, favouring their elasticity: the material to which STARTEX is coupled does, therefore, not lose its features after the coupling but can be used to make parts of the shoe or bag that need to keep the shape over time. Furthermore, at the request of some fashion brands, the technical team has developed conformable thermo-adhesive fabrics and a line of natural fabrics. As with all the new products, the laboratory performed coupling and heat resistance tests, and also tests of certified institutions.
Research, development and innovation activities are of primary importance to Serafini s.r.l. and an essential tool to meet market needs. Each new product is born in the R&D laboratory and is studied, tested and subjected to technical and physical tests. After passing all the trials, it is assigned to trusted pilot companies for “field tests” and, only then, made available in all Serafini branches worldwide and at authorised dealers. The production for the leather sector is varied with high technical performance, including eco-sustainable materials, reinforced tapes, transfer adhesives, nylon reinforcements, fabrics, extrusions and microfibres. With regard to the latter, recently the WaxCoat treatment was presented. This exclusive finishing process can be performed on various substrates, but which is particularly suitable for microfibres as it reduces hydrophilicity, i.e. the absorbing power of the support, keeping its pleasant soft and round coat unaltered. WaxCoat also acts as a “barrier primer”, decreasing the amount of adhesive but having the same performances, so that in some cases it has been possible to have an excellent adhesion of the surfaces even by applying the adhesive on one side only. Another important accomplishment to emphasise is the ability of the product to maintain its perfect shape, thus avoiding the frequent elongations or shrinkages in processing with certain types of support. For these reasons, WaxCoat is particularly used in leather goods, where one has to work with very low dimensional tolerances.