The concept of melange has gained universal appeal

The concept of melange has gained universal appeal


RSWM is the flagship company of LNJ Bhilwara Group and is one of India’s largest textile manufacturers, exporting to over 78 countries. They have 10 manufacturing plants, specialized in various types of yarn and fabric production, including cotton, melange, synthetic, novelty yarns, suiting, and denim fabrics. Yogesh Dutt Tiwari, Business Head-Melange Yarn Business, RSWM, provides an overview of the current global landscape for melange yarn and discusses its advantages. He also outlines how his company is strategically addressing these opportunities in the market, in this conversation with Divya Shetty.

Could you explain what mélange yarn is and how it differs from other types of yarn?

Mélange yarn is a blend of fibres in two different colours. It can consist of 100 per cent cotton in various shades or a mix of different fibres, such as polycotton, cotton modal, or cotton lyocell, combined to create varied colour tones. These fibres are mixed to achieve a unique texture known as mélange.

What sets mélange yarn apart from other types of yarn is the innovative process involved. In standard yarn production, fibres are spun directly and dyed as a piece or yarn, with little to no innovation. In contrast, the creation of mélange yarn starts with colour innovation, involving the selection and combination of multiple colours to produce a distinct final shade. This creative approach to colour blending is what differentiates mélange yarn from other kinds of yarn or fibres.

What types of fibers are seeing increased demand in the mélange market, and how is RSWM addressing this trend?

Actually, 100 per cent cotton is always acceptable in the entire market, whether domestic or export. However, sustainability is currently very much in demand. This does not replace 100 per cent cotton, but sustainable fibres are indeed gaining popularity. Recycled cotton, seacell, hemp, and linen, combined with cotton to create mélange, are in high demand nowadays.

What makes mélange the optimal choice for fabric manufacturing, especially in terms of texture and appearance?

Mélange creates a unique effect and texture by mixing different coloured fibres. It doesn’t produce a solid red or navy blue but rather a blend of these colours, resulting in a distinctive texture. This makes it ideal for products like socks, T-shirts, and loungewear, where a fancy, mixed-colour appearance is desirable. Hence, mélange is commonly used for these types of end products.

Are there separate machines specifically for mélange yarn production, or are they the same as those used for other types of yarn?

Actually, for mélange yarn, the machinery system is the same. There are typically four spinning systems: the ring frame, which is the most popular, followed by open-end, air jet, and friction spinning. Among these, ring frame spinning is widely used for mélange yarn production. However, there is an additional 1.5 process involved.

Before yarn production begins, there is a crucial phase of development and dyeing. This stage is pivotal in achieving the desired mélange effect. To achieve this effect, combed or R-carded sliver is required to match the desired blend of fibres. This additional step is necessary because, for traditional 100 per cent cotton yarns in raw white, the process typically involves bale plucking, carding, drawing, combing, speed framing, and finally ring framing.

However, for mélange yarn, the process involves bringing the sliver up to the combing stage, dyeing and blending it, and then returning it to the blow room for further processing. This 1.5 process is intricate and demands considerable expertise to execute successfully.

What are the key advantages and disadvantages of producing Melange yarn?

Discussing the advantages of melange yarn, it involves combining different colours, offering a wider range of options. However, due to its novelty, the demand is lower in quantity. Thus, managing small batches to tailor them according to customer preferences poses significant challenges. Unlike running 100 per cent cotton continuously, where operations can be more straightforward and less labour-intensive, melange yarn production demands meticulous attention regardless of batch size, ranging from 50 kg to 5000 kg. This requires considerable effort, expertise, and care, which presents both advantages and disadvantages.

Nevertheless, operating in smaller batches allows for customisation, meeting specific customer preferences and earning compensation accordingly. This flexibility stands out as a notable advantage of melange yarn.

What sustainable practices is RSWM implementing during the manufacturing of melange yarn?

From inception to completion, we adhere faithfully to best practices across the textile industry. Beginning with raw materials, our approach is resolute: we convert our own PET bottles into recycled polyester fibre, utilised across all units including melange production, wherever demand dictates. Additionally, for cotton, we employ organic and Fairtrade varieties, sourced regionally. Embracing sustainability, we integrate a range of fibres such as seacell, smart cell, cupro, linen, and hemp—each chosen for their eco-friendly credentials.

Transitioning to dyeing processes, we exclusively utilise GOTS and Oeko-Tex approved organic dyes, ensuring the exclusion of carcinogenic substances. Our commitment extends to water management, optimising dyeing methods to minimise consumption, and implementing robust recycling systems that reclaim over 90 per cent of water, achieving near-zero liquid discharge. Comprehensive treatment facilities including ETP, RO, ME, and bio-treatment are integral to our operations, ensuring no effluent is released into the environment.

Regarding energy usage, a substantial portion—ranging from 70 – 90 per cent—is sourced from wind and solar power, supplied through our affiliated entities. This concerted effort underscores our dedication to sustainable practices and ethical business standards throughout our operations.

Does RSWM distribute melange yarn on a global scale? If so, which countries do you supply to, and what are the current trends observed in the international yarn market?

The demand for raw white synthetic and dyed synthetic materials has significantly decreased. Grey cotton and melange cotton have emerged as prominent choices, aligned with the sustainability trend driving market dynamics. Our operations cater globally to the widespread need for melange yarn, including pivotal markets such as Tiruppur, renowned for its 100 per cent cotton melange fabric, sought after by major buying houses like PVH, Calvin Klein, and Tommy Hilfiger.

The concept of melange has gained universal appeal, evident in its integration into fabric production worldwide. For every 100 kilograms of fabric manufactured, approximately 80 kilograms typically consist of raw white material, with the remaining 20 kilograms comprising melange to ensure a comprehensive product offering. Even within local markets, our products are directed towards these influential entities, reflecting the global embrace of melange yarn. Key markets for our yarn include Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Latin America, and the USA, underscoring its widespread adoption across continents, from prominent regions such as Egypt to smaller markets like Germany and Australia.

Currently, the global conditions are not particularly favorable for companies. Have you observed any recent improvements in this regard?

No, the war situation continues without a break. Everyone is uncertain about what will happen next, which is causing problems, especially with rising freight costs cutting into profitability in a low-margin business environment. Unexpected events like this always hurt business. However, we’re somewhat reassured by the steady demand for Melange.

Finally, what do you envision for the future of the Melange industry, and what steps is RSWM taking to contribute to that vision?

Over the past two years, the melange yarn business has encountered challenges, yet it remains a perennial trend owing to its innovative essence. As I mentioned earlier, for every six packs sold, two packs will consist of melange yarn, ensuring a consistent demand of 20-25 per cent amidst all market demands. The key lies in leveraging innovation effectively, an area where RSWM excels, particularly in pioneering new product developments.