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VF Participates in $320 Million Manufacturing Innovation Institute

Tags: Strategy & Innovation Supply Chain

VF Participates in $320 Million Manufacturing Innovation Institute

April 5, 2016

Partnership represents the ‘future of apparel’

In a public – private national research initiative, VF Corporation has partnered with more than 80 companies and non-profit organizations to spearhead a new manufacturing innovation institute to advance the future of the U.S. textile industry through digital and technology enhancements.

The Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) Alliance is leading the project, bringing together nontraditional partners to integrate fibers and yarns with integrated circuits, LEDs, solar cells and other capabilities. The partnership will result in new “smart garments” and “connected fabrics” that can see, hear, sense, communicate, store energy, regulate temperature, monitor health and change color. 

The consortium includes manufacturing companies, start-ups, universities and industry experts and will accelerate the transfer and sharing of technology, enabling revolutionary defense and commercial applications. Potential applications could include fabrics with exceptional strength, flame resistance, reduced weight and electrical conductivity.

The U.S. Department of Defense formally announced the new partnership on Friday, April 1, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Approximately $75 million of the $320 million initiative will be funded by the federal government.

Innovation is not a new concept at VF. In 2012, the company developed a plan for accelerating innovation throughout the company and its brands, from new product development to better manufacturing processes to enhancements of digital and in-store consumer experiences. ‘Going outside for new ideas,’ by partnering with others, was one of the innovation mantras that VF identified at the time, with last week’s AFFOA announcement an example of this ongoing effort.

Today, VF has three Global Innovation Centers — in Alameda, Calif.; Greensboro, N.C.; and Dover, N.H. — with more than with 50 dedicated associates. The Centers are focused on jeanswear, footwear and performance apparel.

For more information about innovation at VF, visit vfc.com/powerful-platforms/strategy-innovation