PROFILING INDUO, OFFERING WATER-REPELLENT COTTON
In this report, the latest in our series of retail-tech company profiles, we look at Induo, a maker of cotton shirt fabric enhanced with invisible technology. We met Sébastien François, founder and CEO of Induo, to talk about how the idea behind the business came about and discuss the opportunities, challenges and the future plans for the company.
INDUO: SMART FABRICS FOR EVERYDAY CLOTHING
The idea: Induo makes cotton shirt fabric enhanced with invisible technology. While use in functional, high-performance clothing in sportswear abounds, in regular everyday clothing—such as suits and shirts—there is very little offering of fabrics with enhanced properties that enable users to wear clothes that stay fresh and clean throughout the working day.
Figure 1: Induo
The USP: Induo developed an enhanced cotton fabric made through a particular manufacturing process. The fabric obtained is both water- and stain-repellent as well as breathable (odor resistant), but maintains the look and feel of regular cotton.
The background: Induo was set up in 2014. After working with textile engineers at the European Centre for Innovative Textiles, a France-based textile research center where the company was incubated, Induo developed its enhanced cotton fabric. It started trading six months ago. Currently, the fabric is used by several retailers in France in their private-label apparel.
The challenges: According to François, the company’s main challenge is raising awareness among consumers and retailers of the potential of smart fabrics in regular everyday office wear. Many retailers currently focus on offering garments at the cheapest price, regardless of the properties of the fabric. It is therefore crucial for Induo to raise awareness of the benefits of wearing enhanced cotton shirts, as well as why it makes commercial sense for retailers to offer these products.
The goal and the opportunities: Induo’s goal is to become the leading name in enhanced cotton fabric, or to be “the Gore-Tex” of office wear. The main opportunity is to offer apparel retailers and manufacturers a way to differentiate themselves from competitors. While with casualwear this can be done through different design, with formalwear (which tends to be more uniform in terms of design), differentiation can be achieved by offering performance clothing.
Why Induo can disrupt apparel: While the applications of fabrics with enhanced properties have so far been focused on sportswear and activewear, Induo introduces smart fabrics to everyday office clothing, a much larger segment of the apparel market. Smart Fabrics is expected to expand significantly in the near future, as we discuss in our report Smart Fabrics: The Future of Apparel?