KINGSPORT ‑ Eastman has been making cellulose fiber almost since the beginning of the company in the 1920s.
“It used to be one of the largest businesses that Eastman had and employed a lot of people at the Kingsport site,” said Jon Woods, Eastman’s general manager of Textiles. “And then over the years, the business declined because there were changes in the textile industry and other fibers like polyester.”
Now, it’s making a huge comeback because of an Eastman cellulose fiber product called Naia used in woven and knit fabrics,
“We’ve seen a resurgence in the last several years for fibers made from nature,” Woods pointed out. “So any fiber or material made from a natural resource or raw material is being favored by consumers because of its sustainability story. The other reason is that it makes some really nice fabrics, very luxurious and soft to the touch. It’s very popular in the fashion industry today where there is a merger between use of the garment. It might be something you wear to work but also for recreation. More and more apparel is becoming multi-purpose. Recently we made an acquisition of a company in Spain that also makes a similar product.”
Naia can be used alone or in blends with other fibers to create fabrics that are suitable for stunning intimate apparel, evening apparel, or everyday casual wear. By virtue of the hypoallergenic nature of the fiber, fabrics made of Naia are skin friendly, ensuring comfort for even the most sensitive skin. With inherent quick drying and cool-to-touch properties, fabrics made of Naia cellulosic yarn keep skin feeling cool and dry.
Garments made of Naia are incredibly easy to care for; they can be laundered at home and have excellent wrinkle recovery and pilling resistance. Even traditionally tough stains — such as red wine and coffee — can be easily removed.
Naia is made in Kingsport.
When asked why Naia is important to Eastman’s portfolio, Woods responded: “It’s one of our growth programs that align with market trends. We see a growth opportunity to be able to utilize our technology platforms and manufacturing capability to really intersect with a growing market demand for these types of products.”