The pandemic has accelerated demand for clothes made from performance fabrics because of its moisture-wicking, anti-odor and cooling properties they offer. As per a Women’s Wear Daily report, consumers are seeking not just presentable but also versatile garments. This has created demand for fabrics with technical attributes, says Stephen Kerns, President, Schoeller USA. His company launched several products in June including ‘Drys’, a two-way stretch fabric made from recycled polyester and Ecorepel Bio, a moisture and abrasion-resistant technology that can be used in sports and lifestyle apparel.
The company also launched Schoeller Shape, a cotton blend made from recycled polyamide. Another launch is the Softight ripstop fabric made from recycled polyamide for making pants. Finished with Ecorepel Bio technology, these fabrics offer are water- and dirt-repellent besides being PFC-free and renewable raw materials-based. They can be used in bottoms, tops and jackets, says Kerns,.
Opportunity for stretch fabrics
Pandemic-prompted lifestyle changes have stepped up demand for stretch fabrics, opines Kerns. These fabrics enable consumers to retain their garments longer, explains Alexa Raab, Head-Global Brand and Communications, Sorona, a bio-based, high-performance polymer from DuPont. Sorona-blended fabrics not just offer long-lasting stretch but also feature wrinkle resistance and shape recovery properties that reduce bagging and pilling.
Certified through the company’s ‘Common Thread Certification Program’, these fabrics meet the key performance criteria of long-lasting stretch, shape recovery, easy care, softness and breathability. They are being used in home products and comforters. In February, Dupont teamed with Thindown to launch a blended material that provides warmth, lightness and breathability on top of Sorona’s softness, drape and stretch.
Owned by Milliken & Co, Polartec increased the use of performance fabrics in garments, Steve Layton, President notes, the brand introduced synthetic PolarFleece performance fabric in 1981as an alternative to wool. It also works with Moncler, Stone Island, Reigning Champ, Veilance and other fashion brands.
Blending appearance with comfort
Appearance plays an important role in garments made from performance fabrics, says Layton. One of the most popular performance fabrics offered by Ploartec is the PowerAir that retains warmth by reducing microfiber shedding. Polartech also eliminates PFAS (per- and polyfluoralkyl substances) across its line of performance fabrics. In future, the brand aims to use more bio-based fibers in its performance fabrics, Layton adds.
Growing demand for sustainable performance fabrics have been answered by Unifi which launched Repreve recycled polyester fiber. As Chad Bolick, Vice President says, these fibers can be used to create a variety of products ranging from apparel and shoes to home furnishings.
Growing demand for merino wool loungewear
Consumers also look to merino wool to meet their performance needs. Stuart McCullough, Managing Director, The Woolmark Company says, consumers are seeking innovative and eco-friendly solutions in performance fabrics. This is leading to increased demand for loungewear made from merino wool. To capitalize on this, Woolmark plans to increase the use of performance fibers in shoes such as APL’s technical knit runner.
McCullough believes demand for a sustainable system will drive the use of performance fabrics in future. Sustainability pressures are compelling brands and manufacturers to relook their material choices and opt for more eco-friendly fibers. Australian wool is emerging as a more eco-friendly option for development of sustainable textiles.