Founded in 1877, Helly Hansen has developed a long list of first-to-market innovations, including the first supple waterproof fabrics more than 140 years ago. Other past breakthroughs include the first fleece fabrics in the 1960s, the first technical base layers Lifa Stay Dry Technology in the 1970s, and the award-winning and patented H2Flow temperature regulating system. Most recently is the launch of their most innovative and sustainable waterproof and breathable technology to date, Lifa Infinity Pro. Category Managing Director Philip Tavell, who joined Helly Hansen from Red Bull and then Craft Sportswear after an 11-year long professional athletic career, explains how it’s challenging the industry norm.
— I’d say that it [the technology] pushes the envelope in apparel design, he says. Through advanced textile engineering and development, we wanted to disrupt the industry to find a way to completely remove all added chemicals without losing the performance of the products, as the whole textile industry has a challenge with added DWR treatments to create water repellency. We are currently using the technology in 2 garments and will expand it into more products this year.
How did it come to life?
— We realized that our proprietary LIFA technology — a lightweight and hydrophobic fiber where the fully waterproof and breathable membrane, as well as durable water repellent performance, are achieved without the use of chemicals — that is currently used in baselayers and insulation had some great properties that we explored to use in other types of products. Combining the solvent free Lifa Infinity membrane with 100% Lifa hydrophobic solution dyed face fabric — which saves roughly 85% in water consumption — Lifa Infinity Pro is a ground-breaking technology, with extreme waterproofness and breathability. With everlasting water repellent protection that never needs to be reproofed with chemical treatment after use, it delivers long-lasting, responsible, and superior professional-grade performance. We are the only brand globally using this technology and being able to create a performance garments without any added chemical treatments, says Tavell.
What was the hardest challenge?
— Our textile engineers have pulled the heaviest weight in this development. Being the first brand to use it, all advanced developments have been a first for everyone. There has been a couple of years of trial and error to get the right structure of the face fabric and working very close to the production engineers to fine tune production methods.
Do you have any other special technology coming in 2021?
— We are continuing our work to do more responsible choices and create garments ready to be recycled at end of life. Currently, we are promoting a concept called Mono Material where all garments are made out of 1 fiber to be easily recycled into new yarns and garments. For 2021, we are including ski apparel into this concept to expand our effort in this area.