Acura’s new-generation RDX SUV, which went on sale in the US in June, features one of the latest applications of Toray’s Ultrasuede® material. The 2019 RDX is the first Acura SUV to offer an A-Spec upgrade package, which provides the option of a sporty red or black leather interior with black Ultrasuede® inserts.
Ultrasuede® features along the centreline of each RDX A-Spec seat and also appears as a decorative IP insert. The particular fabric used is Ultrasuede® PX, a partially plant-based product where 30% of the polyester used in its creation comes from molasses, a waste product of sugar refining.
This sustainable raw material is processed to create polymers indistinguishable from those made using petrochemicals. The environmental benefits are substantial, however, with about 1kg of greenhouse gas emissions saved for every 1kg of Ultrasuede® PX produced, or a saving of about 0.47 litres* of crude oil (the raw material for petroleum-based polymers) for every square metre of material
*according to Toray calculations based on the Japan Environmental Management Association for Industry’s database, with oil consumption calculated by discounting the yield of new material generated by refining crude oil.
Ultrasuede® PX was Toray’s first non-woven material with a suede texture, created using ultra-fine fibres, to incorporate plant-based polymers, but the benefits have now been spread to other products including Ultrasuede® BA and BV. These different grades and thicknesses of material are suited to a variety of diverse applications. All share the core benefits of Ultrasuede®, including the soft tactile feel of premium suede combined with consistent quality and stability.
In the future, Toray aims to increase the proportion of plant-based polymers used in Ultrasuede® production, and to utilise other plant byproducts as raw material, avoiding both potential food crops and genetically modified varieties.
A particularly inventive use of Ultrasuede® PX made its debut at the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week in January this year. YUIMA NAKAZATO employed the fabric in clothing created for its spring and summer 2018 collection, called Harmonize. All the garments in the collection are primarily made of Ultrasuede® PX, though they also feature recycled parachutes, airbags and other materials originally created to protect human beings.
Over the past few years YUIMA NAKAZATO has developed and refined a unique method of assembling garments, using modular fabric components, overlapping and held together by rows of removable rivets.
Ultrasuede® is highly suited to this “Unit Constructed Textile” system, because it can be laser cut into the precise required shapes and doesn’t require a stitched edge.
The modular clothing can be adjusted to give a perfect fit by swapping out components of slightly different sizes, identified by codes embossed into each module. Different people would require different combinations of codes for a custom fit, while garments could be updated with changing fashions, adapted to fluctuating body sizes or easily repaired when damaged simply by exchanging key modules.
The Unit Constructed Textile philosophy is the result of thinking differently about a problem, leading to a more versatile and sustainable outcome. In other words, it’s a perfect fit for the innovative Ultrasuede® PX.