Performance fabrics, or value-added textiles, are fabrics engineered for a wide variety of uses where the performance, not style, of the fabric is the major parameter. If you are active, you have probably come in contact with performance fabrics. They are commonly used for all active wear, sports wear, summer and winter wear, mountain activities, trekking, workwear, military, urban wear and protective wear.
Smart fabrics and interactive textiles are a growing market that is important to know. The high performance and cost-effectiveness of smart fabrics and interactive textiles have enabled them to replace traditional materials and become popular among many end-users. These fabrics can perform extraordinarily different than their natural behavior or what they were originally meant for in their natural state.
Natural Fibers For Performance Wear
Cotton – is great at reducing that post-workout stench. However, cotton absorbs moisture, potentially making your clothes like a dishrag during a hard workout. Still, for yoga, weight training, or other low-sweat activities, cotton blends are great.
Wool – is popular among hikers and the great outdoors. The material creates pockets that trap air, so it’s fantastic at regulating heat and keeping your body warm. It’s also breathable and wicks moisture. Additionally, the lightweight fibers don’t retain odors. You’ll find wool in everything from socks and underwear to fashion-forward fitness gear for excellent insulation and moisture protection.
Synthetic Fabrics For Performance Wear
Bamboo – is considered synthetic because of the way it is processed. Bamboo feels light, breathable, and moisture-wicking—it also protects your skin from ultraviolet rays.
Nylon – Famously used to make women’s stockings, the synthetic fabric is soft as silk, mildew resistant, and dries quickly. It’s also breathable and wicks sweat from your skin to the fabric’s surface, where it can evaporate.
Polyester – is very common among workout fabrics and can be found on most labels. Basically plastic cloth, it’s durable, wrinkle-resistant, lightweight, breathable, and non-absorbent, which means that moisture from your skin evaporates instead of being drawn into the material. Polyester also repels UV rays and insulates you even when it’s wet. However polyester’s main drawback is the smell that it allows, because it is a synthetic material it allows stink-causing bacteria to thrive.
Polypropylene – is made from plastic and is completely water-resistant. It is usually used as a base layer so that even after a workout leaves you sweaty, what’s touching you is completely dry. Polypropylene forces moisture to pass through its fibers, expelling it to the fabric’s surface where it can evaporate.
Spandex – (also known by the brand name Lycra) puts the stretch in workout wear. The synthetic fabric can expand to nearly 600 percent of its size, offers an unrestricted range of motion, and then snaps back in place. Spandex is also breathable, wicks moisture, and dries quickly.
Company-Patented Performance Fabrics
PolarTec – Malden Mills first developed Polar Fleece, now called PolartecTM, in the 1970’s. It has the advantages of wool (warmth, even when wet, and breathability) without the disadvantages (weight, bulk, care, and discomfort). Today PolarTec consists of over 300 different fabrics designed to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. Each collection of fabrics differing by weights, textures, intended activities, and weather conditions. Malden’s performance fabrics are guaranteed pill-proof, warm, light-weight, easy-care, breathable, and great color-retention.
Coolmax – is a series of moisture-wicking technical fabrics developed in 1986 by DuPont Textiles and Interiors (now Invista). Originally designed to be worn under the hot uniforms of soldiers and police officers, the fabrics employ specially-engineered polyester fibres to improve “breathability.” These ‘wickaway’ fabrics draw moisture away from the skin in order to maintain the appropriate air space, between you and your outer garments, your body needs to perform its evaporation process.
Supplex – was created to offer consumers the feels and benefits of cotton without its downfalls (creasing, shrinkage, and fade). Invista scientists combines the traditional appeal of cotton with the performance benefits of modern fiber technology. Supplex is great if you’re looking for a fabric that feels like cotton but is breathable, holds its shape, dries fast, and retain its color.
Cordura – is a collection of fabrics usually made from nylon. Cordura is used on a variety of products from luggage to military gear. So consider this fabric for products that’s durable, versatile and reliable. Cordura is created from ‘high-bulk’ yarn, with filaments that are looped and tangled within the yarn bundle creating high abrasion resistance. Cordura is equally as thick as cotton duck fabric but weighs half as much, and has three times the tear strength and three times the abrasion resistance.
Tasc – was first developed in 2006 as a solution for materials that perform, but were uncomfortable. Tasc is insanely soft, repels odors, regulates your temperature, and is UPF 50+. Tasc Performance and other brands blend chemical-free bamboo with organic cotton, wool, and spandex to make workout clothes you could run a marathon in or just run errands, and stay fresh, dry, and sun-protected.
X-Static – This fabric is woven with silver, which is an antimicrobial that prevents bacterial and fungal growth. X-Static can be found in your typical athletic or athleisure brand because it will never wash out or stop working. Silverescent will keep items fresh and stench-free forever.
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