Unifi Inc. announced April 9 that it is moving ahead with plans to install machinery at its factories in North Carolina and Central America by June to meet growing demand for regionally sourced synthetic fabrics from such brands as The North Face and Ford.

While UFI disclosed in October, 2014 that it was considering investing $40 million to expand capacity in the Western Hemisphere, last week's announcement put to rest any speculation it might delay the project due to concerns over the impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal being negotiated by the United States and 11 other Pacific countries. (See related story this issue.)

In a rare move, Unifi even included a quote from the domestic textile industry's lead trade lobbyist in its press release.
“The Unifi investment is another example of how the NAFTA and CAFTA regions are gaining share as they continue to become more economical sourcing options,” said Auggie Tantillo, president and CEO of the National Council of Textile Organizations. “Unifi's investment in additional capacity in the U.S. and Central America demonstrates the company's commitment to sustain the growth and economic vitality we've come to expect in the region.”

In October, UFI said it was considering adding 10 yarn texturing machines to its plants in North Carolina and El Salvador to enhance their small production run capabilities. It was also working on plans to convert one spinning machine into six smaller machines that could produce yarns in smaller lot sizes more efficiently in line with customer demands. Finally, UFI anticipates adding a fourth recycling line at a North Carolina plant that recycles used PET water bottles into chips used to make its Repreve recycled polyester yarns that have become so popular with environmentally minded active lifestyle brands. It also scouting upstream investments such as bottle washing plants that could help secure its supply of plastic bottles.

In January, The North Face announced it will begin incorporating Repreve Textile Takeback yarn into its Denali fleece jackets. The yarn is made by combining fabric waste generated during the production of the Denali with Repreve yarn.