Ailing textile firm pins turnaround on high-tech superfabrics

In a converted fitness center around the corner from a Starbucks coffee shop east of San Francisco, research scientists say they've discovered the textile industry's future.

To see it, you must look though a microscope.

Here young scientists in white lab coats are developing the superfabrics of tomorrow -- cloth that repels stains, garments that resist fading or fraying, socks and sweat shirts that clear out body odor.

The researchers, all employed by Nano-Tex LLC, a privately owned unit of Burlington Industries Inc., say the technology exists to make clothing do just about anything.

As the American textile industry fades under a crush of imports, old-line companies are embracing new business models that emphasize technology and niche markets. Gone are the business plans that once built hulking mills and employed endless streams of blue-collar workers.

No company illustrates this high-tech transition more than Greensboro, N.C.-based Burlington. And no company better typifies the stunning rise and fall of the Carolinas' textile industry, and perhaps its future.

News source: Sillicon Valley

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