The demand for antiviral apparel has been steadily increasing as the coronavirus pandemic induces a change in the way people look at protection & hygiene.

Textile Companies Stepping up into Antiviral Apparels

To cater to this growing demand almost all the Indian textiles brands, including Reliance, Arvind, Aditya Birla, Donear Group, Raymond Siyaram and few start-ups have entered the market, which is expected to surpass $20.5 billion by 2026, globally. On the other side, questions are being raised on whether or not there is enough scientific data that people using them get less infections compared to others.

Companies started their journey by manufacturing reusable masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, and today, they are offering a range of clothing along with fashion and casual wear.

However, research shows that viruses and bacteria can remain active on textile surfaces for up to two days.

Peter England, a menswear brand from the Rs 8,743-crore Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail recently launched a range of antiviral shirts and masks. Manish Singhai, COO, Peter England said that the pandemic has accelerated the company's innovation cycle to meet the immediate needs of the consumers. The company has launched many products across categories such as work from home collection, disposable masks, reusable cloth masks, antiviral shirts & masks and the latest offering is Neem Tulsi Collection.

All these products are designed and developed to provide protection and style in one go. The company is now gearing up to launch trousers, denims, t-shirts & loungewear. Under Neem Tulsi Collection, the brand launched Shirts & Masks which are powered with a patented technology called “Enliven”. The fabric is treated with a unique mixture of 100 per cent herbal neem, tulsi to add comprehensive hygiene functions like anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and tested to provide defense against Ultraviolet rays.

Besides catering to domestic markets, the brand started supplying to overseas markets including UAE and GCC.

"We have launched our products and collection very recently and the response is very encouraging. It would be too early to comment on the sales and revenue generation as all these products have been launched in the market in the past couple of months," he said.

Donear Industries Ltd launched anti-viral fabrics in April this year, company's Managing Director Rajendra Agarwal said that the response has been unprecedented. With the unlock underway, market response has also been good so far. Bulk orders are coming in from our B2B side as well and being fulfilled.

"So much so, that we're accounting for 10-15 percent of our annual sales coming from anti-viral products - which is approximately - Rs 50 crore," he said. Donear Group has collaborated with men's wear brand Zodiac to launch anti-viral shirts called Securo. The cost of products ranges from Rs 250/m onwards.

Meanwhile, questions are being raised on the availability of enough scientific data on whether people using them get less infections compared to others. Dr C. Jagadeesh, Senior Consultant in Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospital, Chennai said, “Antimicrobial clothes are the talk of the town now. We don’t have enough scientific data on whether people using them get fewer infections compared to others. We must also understand that for infections such as Covid, clothes are not the main mode of transmission. It is doubtful that these fabrics, even if antimicrobial, will be able to reduce the transmission of infectious diseases. Safety issues to those who use them have to be looked at as well. In a nutshell, more information is needed on the usefulness and safety issues.”

Companies in turn have said that products are tested at various labs in India and outside and they have virus-resistant properties to ensure safety by inhibiting the persistence and growth of viruses and bacteria on its surface. It provides effective protection against contamination and transmission of viruses that use textiles as a hosting surface.



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