Hosted Catalog for Fibers and Fabrics Launched

Freeborders, INVISTA aim to make online resource a standard for apparel industry

Freeborders, INVISTA aim to make online resource a standard for apparel industry

San Francisco — July 26, 2004 — Solution providers Freeborders and INVISTA, formerly DuPont Textiles & Interiors, have launched a new global online catalog of fibers and fabrics designed to link more than 1,600 brand and retail buyers with 500 mills in 50 countries.

The two providers said that the new service, dubbed FAST, is open to all textile producers and fiber types, and that the service will allow mills to increase their sales by providing online fabric catalogs directly to brand and retail decision-makers. Brands and retailers will be able to search, sample and cost new fabrics as well as communicate with mills 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to cut lead times and speed innovation, Freeborders and INVISTA said.

Using the service, registered buyers can access fabrics and request swatches from the FAST online catalog around-the-clock, which the solution providers said would shave four to five weeks off lead times and help speed new products to market. Buyers can access all mill databases with one search by fabric type, construction, geography and other parameters and then communicate directly with the mills at no cost.

Registered sellers can display catalogs of fabrics online to various brands and retailer decision-makers, which could help them to increase sales and build deeper customer relationships. "Mills will be able to speed marketing of innovative designs and fibers via secure proprietary areas within the FAST solution and thereby accelerate their ability to meet retailers' purchasing needs," Freeborders and INVISTA said in a statement. "These private channels allow textile producers the capability to choose the brands and retailers that can view and sample their fabrics."

FAST's founders are hoping that adoption by major players in the apparel supply chain will help the service become an industry standard online catalog for raw materials. Besides INVISTA and Freeborders, industry players such as VF Corp., TAL Apparel, Fountain Set and Cone Mills have contributed to FAST's conceptual development and are adopting the solution.

VF Corp., a FAST design partner and owner of leading brands such as Lee, Jansport and North Face, will use the solution to alter its processes for developing fabrics.

"FAST will help us streamline the processes we use to source fabrics for our brands," said Jeff Streader, vice president of global sourcing at VF Corp. "We see big advantages in being able to instantly initiate swatch and sample yardage requests and track status. FAST will help reduce costs and cycle time and ensure superior product quality."

"The textile and apparel industry will see huge benefits from adopting standard methods of doing business," said Dr. Harry Lee, managing director of TAL. "Other industries like toys and electronics have seen innovation rise through standardizing methods of communicating. We will require all of our mills to adopt FAST and help further establish this platform as the industry standard for raw materials."

Gordon Yen, assistant to the chairman of Fountain Set, agrees. "As a leading textile producer, we see enormous value in adopting this common method of servicing our brand, retail and garment manufacturing customers," Yen said. "We believe noticeable communication accuracy and efficiency improvements could be achieved by the supply chain partners in working on product development and sampling. FAST would enable our supply chain to react more effectively to market needs."

FAST will incorporate INVISTA's existing On-Line Fabric Library, a current standard, as well fiber and fabric products from other suppliers.

"The INVISTA On-Line Fabric Library was a highly successful concept that grew to include over 27,000 mill products and was used regularly by buyers from many of the world's foremost brands and retailers," said Jon Penrice, INVISTA vice president of marketing for global apparel. "We knew this service would ultimately be of even greater value to retailers and brands if it included fabrics of all types. We're confident about the appeal of our products and brands and believe that a one-stop open resource like FAST can be a powerful driver of the innovation the industry needs to revitalize its consumer connections. When that happens, we all win."

"The work we've done with INVISTA for the past three years has established beyond doubt the value of a single industry standard," asserted Mike Keating, a partner with Freeborders. "Besides increasing buyers' reach, the FAST Web catalog offers significant product life cycle cost savings and can cut fabric research and sampling lead times by as much as a month or more. This service, which is free to retailers and brands, helps fast track innovation and offers designers and buyers greater flexibility in product planning."

Freeborders provides product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services to retailers and their suppliers. The company's customers include J. Crew, Lands' End, Saks, Target and Pottery Barn, among others.

INVISTA is an integrated fiber and intermediates business with a global presence in more than 40 countries. The company operates six businesses — apparel; performance fibers; interiors; intermediates; polymer and resins; and textile fibers — and markets such brand-name fabrics as Lycra, Coolmax and Thermolite.