Request for Proposal
Status: RFP is Closed

Seeking Cotton/Cottonlike Materials with Superior Wash Durability

Request Number
Due Date
Jan 3
Program Manager


Licensing, product acquisition, supplier agreement, proof of concept leading to scale-up to manufacture, joint development.


Phase 1 - Proof of Concept (2-4 months)

Phase 2 - Scale Up to Commercial Use (6 months)


All financials are to be negotiated.


For questions, contact the Program Manager via Email: 

RFP was closed on
Jan 2019

RFP Title


Seeking Cotton/Cottonlike Materials with Superior Wash Durability
RFP Description

NineSigma, representing MAS Holdings, a global apparel and textile manufacturing company, invites proposals for cotton or cotton-like materials that have a cotton or softer handfeel and that offer superior wash durability in terms of shape retention, pilling performance, and color retention. Suitable materials can be based on cotton, other natural fibers, or synthetic fibers. Preference is for materials that can rapidly be introduced to the market; the target market being basic men's underwear (boxer shorts, briefs, trunks).


Clothes washing leads to degradation of the fabric. Warm water and detergent degrades the color. The heat of the wash cycle releases some of the tension that was applied to the fibers during the construction of the clothes, so the fabric shrinks. During washing the fabrics are rubbed against each other and often come into contact with zippers and buttons damaging the fibers and leading to pilling, where groups of short or broken fibers tangle together on the surface of the fabric into a tiny ball or 'pill'.

Cotton-based garments are susceptible to all of the above degrading factors. NineSigma's client is interested in approaches that can improve the durability of cotton-based garments, and they especially want to improve the wash durability of fabrics used for men's underwear. Although cotton or other natural fibers are preferred, this call is open to synthetic fibers as well. The fabric or materials that our client is seeking should have a handfeel similar to or better than cotton.


Anticipated Project Phases

Phase 1 - Proof of Concept

  • Small scale tests in a client defined setting
  • Assessment of the functionalities of the raw material prior to garment assembly
  • Assessment of wash durability
  • Validation of the product in terms of real-life use
  • Assessment of economics of proposed materials

Phase 2 - Scale up towards commercial use

Key Success Criteria

The desired material must be either cotton or natural fiber based (100% cotton or a blend of cotton and synthetic materials), or, if the material is synthetic it must have a similar or better handfeel to cotton.

The successful material will:

  • Meet target fabric weight
    • between 160 - 170 GSM (gram per square meter) for boxers
    • between 135 - 140 GSM for briefs
  • Weft knit (circular, single jersey) manufacturing preferred, but open to warp knit solutions
  • Provide better color fastness after washing
    • Maintain a Grade 4.0 or higher for both 'Staining' and 'Color Change' after 40 wash cycles
  • Improve the pilling performance
    • Maintain a Grade 4.0 or higher after 40 wash cycles
  • Provide better shape retention
    • Not more than 5% shrinkage after 40 wash cycles
    • Recovery rate of 95% or more after 40 wash cycles
  • Preferably give a better water evaporation rate
    • Line dry in 80 minutes or less in ambient temperatures below 26°C
  • Maintain characteristics for intimate textile materials
    • Be soft, pliable, and drapable
    • Not effect the ability to dye
  • Able to meet demand for rapid market introduction


  1. Machine washing conditions are:
    • Normal cycle using standard Tide laundry detergent
    • Wash temperature between 40° and 50°C
    • 1 tumble dry cycle per 5 wash cycles
  2. Staining and pilling quality grades are visually assessed from 1 to 5, with 5 meaning negligible change in performance after washing cycles and 1 meaning maximum change
  3. The current specification for shrinkage and pilling/color fastness is 5% and Grade 4 after 20 wash cycles
  4. The materials will be subject to sewing, chemical bonding (using glues or tapes), and thermal molding through its manufacturing life cycle from fabric to consumer product.
    • Bonding conditions during 20-25 seconds
      • Temperatures between 150° and 175°C
      • Pressure between 3 and 5 bar
    • Molding conditions during 40 seconds
      • Temperatures between 190° and 193°C
      • Pressure of 6 bar
Possible Approaches

Possible approaches might include but are not limited to:

  • Blends of cotton with other fabrics such as elastane
  • Blends of cotton with synthetic materials
  • Surface modification of cotton fibers or textiles (e.g. by additives, plasma treatment, novel sizing)
  • Use of specialty yarns to enhance durability of the fabric
  • Modified or novel knit structures
  • Novel garment constructions enhancing durability during wash cycles
  • Combinations of technologies and materials
Approaches not of Interest

The following approaches are not of interest:

  • The use of toxic materials or materials that are not safe for human contact (e.g. materials that are not compliant with the Oeko-tex standard)
  • Solutions that make the fabrics uncomfortable to wear
Items to be Submitted

Your response should address the following:

  • Non-confidential description of proposed technology, covering where possible:
    • Description of the proposed materials, treatment, or fabric construction method
    • Current application and use
    • Include available data or evidence for the efficacy of the proposed approach
  • Technical maturity of the approach (concept, prototype, ready to commercialize, commercialized)
  • Challenges to be overcome and proposed approach to overcome these
  • Availability of samples
  • Intellectual property overview
  • Team description and related experience
Preferred Collaboration Types
Area of Interest