One of the largest global apparel companies with brands including Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen, Izod, Arrow and Bass, PVH Corp is to evaluate the use of the new Crailar fibre in its dress and sports shirt lines.

The development agreement begins this month and will look at the potential of using Crailar, which is made from flax and other bast fibres.

"PVH's focus on dress shirts, an apparel category with one of the highest thread counts in the industry, will provide a fantastic opportunity for us to demonstrate the performance range of Crailar Flax fibre," said Ken Barker, chief executive officer of Naturally Advanced Technologies (NAT) which produces the fibre.

"We anticipate that previous testing - which showed increased tensile strength, reduced shrinkage, increased dye uptake, and moisture wicking properties that can keep consumers cool - will reveal performance advantages in this category."

PVH says it is exploring measures to cut environmental impact with respect to water usage, wastewater treatment, hazardous chemical output and overall progressive environmental stewardship within its supply chain, by seeking vendors aligned with those goals.

"We are excited about the prospect of integrating this new all-natural fibre into our products," says chairman and CEO Emanuel Chirico.

"We enter this agreement with the belief that Crailar can move us closer to our goals of progressive environmental standards, including responsible water usage overall, and significant reduction in hazardous chemical waste in water, air and inputs from farmland to finished products."

NAT's proprietary Crailar process produces a soft natural flax-based fibre that can be blended with cotton, wool and other natural fibres at varying levels.

The company already supplies to HanesBrands, Georgia-Pacific, and Brilliant Global Knitwear for commercial use, and to Levi Strauss & Co, Cintas, Carhartt, Ashland, Westex, and Target for evaluation and development.