A two-part exclusive interview with Diviya Loomba, Vice President of Eagle Fabrics, a leader in innovation and quality in knitted textile fabrication.
Taryn Hipwell: How long have you been working in fabric manufacturing?
Diviya Loomba: I’ve been working at Eagle Fabrics for 10 years. We are a family-owned business and have been established in the textile industry for 35 years. As the second generation leader in this business, my focus is on business and product development.
T: Could you please explain your approach to product development in fabric production?
D: Product development starts with the customers’ needs and expectations – when a brand says, “I’ve been working with this conventional fabric, but I wish there was a sustainable option.” Let’s say a customer has been using a French Terry fabric in their collection but is interested in re-developing the same product in a sustainable way. There are a limited number of sustainable yarns in the market and each has certain technical constraints. Combining my knowledge in yarns and my understanding our customer’s needs, I can design a new version of the fabric that is made up of sustainable yarns. This process requires me to get creative, think out of the box, and is truly one of my favorite parts about fabric production.
T: When did Eagle Fabrics begin to offer sustainable fabric options?
D: Eagle Fabrics was one of the first fabric manufacturers to partner with Lenzing [a leading supplier of wood-based fabrics] and bring Modal yarns to the West Coast back in 1996. Since that time we’ve significantly expanded our eco-yarns collection with Tencel, organic cotton, recycled cotton, recycled poly, MicroViscose bamboo, hemp, soy, EcoVero (recycled viscose), and more.
T: Have you noticed an increase in large brands switching from conventional to sustainable fabric options?
D: Yes. There has always been interest but it has become more prevalent over the past 5-7 years. Consumers have become increasingly more aware about their clothing. With more consumers asking “How can I support slow fashion?” this demand has continued to push the apparel and fabric industry to respond. Many more brands are requesting sustainable fabric options, and with this increase in demand, market prices for sustainable yarns has decreased, allowing the opportunity for more brands to adopt sustainable practices. Even if brands can’t produce an entire collection using sustainable fabrics, I encourage them to try and start small by introducing a few sustainable pieces. The key is to provide transparent education on the benefits of these fibers and how their garment is made. This transparency enhances customer appreciation and eventually their loyalty in supporting [a brand’s] efforts in being a conscious company.
T: What other roles have you worked in that lend to the business development side of your role as VP?
D: I got my undergraduate degree in economics and my MBA in business administration and entrepreneurship. My early career was very different than what I do now. I started in PR and marketing and then while pursuing my MBA I was working in the tech industry in supply chain order management at Google. With the technology sector being so fast-paced, I was able to get outside exposure to learn practices that I could apply to Eagle Fabrics’ business in the textile industry. By introducing software enhancements in sales and supply chain management, resulting in a reduction on carbon emissions through freight, along with fewer paper trails. It is important to me that our core values are represented in the products we make and are implemented internally across each of our business units.
Stay tuned for the next article, in which Divya explains why textile production requires fabric to be produced in large batches, which translates to high minimums. She also shares the creative options that allow Eagle Fabrics to offer low minimums to start-ups and smaller brands.