Nespresso nuts know what their taste buds are in for when they brew a cup of coffee—each blend’s intensity rating is printed on the side of the sleeve. Invista is applying a similarly simplified scale to its new Lycra Sport platform.
“Increasingly, athletes and active consumers desire sport-specific garments designed to help optimize their athletic performance but with a high degree of comfort; Lycra Sport technology makes it easier than ever for mills, brands and retailers to meet these specific consumer needs,” said Huw Williams, Invista global segment director of activewear and outdoor. “Our proprietary indexes help designers to easily describe performance levels that are tailored to fit the garment’s end use and satisfy the wearer’s need for comfort with performance.”
Invista rolled out the new platform—dubbed the “next generation” of Lycra Sport technology—earlier this month at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City, Utah. Scientifically engineered to deliver comfort, fit and support to stretch activewear, it combines the stretch of Lycra fiber with testing standards that measure fabric performance descriptors on a scale of one to 10 across three indexes:
• Power means compression, so the higher the power index, the greater the shaping or compression effect.
• Comfort speaks for itself.
• Energy rates the effort exerted by the body due to the fabric’s construction—the lower the energy index, the lower the effort needed to move the fabric.
“When we first launched Lycra Sport seven or eight years ago, the whole idea was to put some structure into an industry that’s kind of hard to understand from a technical perspective,” Williams explained. “What’s changed over the last couple of years is that these compression fabrics are no longer just being used in garments designed for running or biking. Softer forms of compression have been seen in the market, like shapewear. What’s happened is compression has moved away from being something that’s only being used in real performance garments into items that are now used in a wide variety of softer sport applications for men and women.”
Thus, the overall index approach to Lycra Sport technology covers the broad spectrum of fabrics, helping to assure comfort from soft control, yoga-type applications to high compression applications like running and cycling.
“There’s no shortage of compression or shaping garments out there in the market today, but it’s very hard to find a garment that performs and is comfortable,” Williams continued, noting that Invista’s research found many women had to readjust their clothing during a workout because their tops were riding up or their pants were slipping down. “Against those kind of insights we’ve basically tried to think about what technology gives comfortable compression, and we worked out how to talk about complicated textile engineering terms and turn them into simple indices that anyone can understand.”
The new Lycra Sport platform also offers mills a simplified fabric certification process. Previously, mills would make the fabric and then send it to Invista for certification, where it would be tested three ways based on the form of Lycra Sport they were looking for. Now the fabric just gets one test. Plus, designers will have more confidence choosing fabric created for specific applications, meaning the consumer should ultimately see better product. In addition, Lycra brand hangtags have been designed to drive sales by clearly communicating fabric benefits.
“We’ve spoken to many of our key supplying mills and downstream customers and, thus far, everyone thinks this kind of simplicity is a great value add to a complicated market,” Williams said.