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Fabric and Fiber Firms Take on Climate and Performance Challenges

Textile companies are taking their technological advancements to the next level in an effort to fool Mother Nature.

The product developments mainly focus on producing materials to make the apparel wearer–from outdoor enthusiasts to spectators–cooler or warmer, and improving their performance. Products that battle odor, moisture and durability are also getting more attention.

The patented process behind brrr° cooling technology has just been put to the test by independent labs that show it consistently outperforms other products available to consumers and can keep people cooler and more comfortable in everyday activities.

Brrr°’s patented cooling technology combines natural minerals, active wicking and rapid drying to create a trademarked “Triple Chill Effect” that instantly and continuously draws heat and moisture away from the body. Brrr° nylon and polyester fabrics consistently outperformed numerous other comparable products in independent laboratory tests that measured Qmax (cool to the touch), wicking and dry time.

“These independent tests once again confirm brrr°’s superior capabilities in removing heat and moisture so people can feel comfortable and confident in whatever they do,” Dr. Apurba Banerjee, chief scientist at brrr° who oversaw the testing.

The testing was conducted in the first half of 2019 by Intertek Testing Services Taiwan Ltd. in accordance with standards set by two groups: the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists and the Committee for Conformity Assessment of Accreditation and Certification of Functional and Technical Textiles.

Brrr° noted that it spends a significant portion of its operating budget to validate and authenticate the cooling, wicking and drying properties of its fabrics. Because brrr°’s cooling technology is embedded in the structure of the yarn of the fabric, it won’t diminish over time with repeated washings. Retailers including Gillz, Southern Tide, CAT apparel, Bigfoot Sock Co., Mizzen+Main, Jos. A. Bank and Men’s Wearhouse use brrr° cooling performance technology.

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For those activities that need extra warmth, PrimaLoft Inc. introduced an innovative textile platform that combines the thermal advantages of insulation with the versatility of fabric.

Dubbed PrimaLoft Next, the new product array was created to offer designers the ability to create styles that deliver lightweight warmth and breathability, without the bulk. The PrimaLoft Next Evolve Series is the first collection within this platform.

“PrimaLoft Next was created to meet the demands of designers and consumers striving for individuality within a sea of sameness,” Mike Joyce, president and CEO of PrimaLoft, said. “It is a hybrid solution that leverages the benefits of insulation with the flexibility of fabric, inviting experimentation by designers seeking to break away from the standard look of insulated apparel.”

Companies adopting the PrimaLoft Next platform will be able to incorporate a material that gives increased resistance to fiber migration, enables greater flexibility to pair with open structure fabrics, and offers durability that allows for dyed options for greater color ranges. For consumers, PrimaLoft Next will help create all-season garments that deliver lightweight warmth when at rest and extreme breathability when active.

Companies are also innovating for active outdoor activities.

First introduced in its skiwear collection, KJUS has brought to market Freelite, a collection of body-zoned, engineered knitwear for body climate and comfort control.

Freelite knitwear is engineered to regulate body temperature and keep people swinging freely on the golf course. High-performance construction combines with the comfort of knits in lightweight Freelite styles that are soft, stretchy and constructed with minimal, ergonomic seams for optimal swing freedom.

Fast-drying and highly breathable, Freelite technology allows for the placement of body-zoned yarns and knit structures to deliver ventilation and moisture-wicking where it’s needed, ensuring the golfer’s body stays dry and comfortable. Freelite polo shirts also deliver a boost of freshness and protection, thanks to integrated antibacterial yarns and UV protection.

Mid-layer pieces feature open knit structures across key sweat zones of the back and underarms for enhanced ventilation, a closed structure on the front to keep out the chill and technical yarns on the inside, and across the back and underarms for moisture-wicking and fast-drying properties.

They also have wool yarns on the outside for warmth and softness. The overall construction uses a blend of cashmere, merino wool, silk, polyamide, silk and elastane for a moisture-absorbing and fast-drying fabric that’s also soft and stretchable.

Jackets are made with technical yarns with a honeycomb structure on the inside for moisture-wicking and fast-drying properties, and wool yarns on the outside for warmth and softness.

Similarly, workwear brand Carhartt has received a patent for its Full Swing technology that incorporates a concealed stretch back layer that improves mobility by providing a greater range of motion, while maintaining the integrity and function of the garment.

The patented technology can be found in several of the brands outerwear pieces. Jackets feature Carhartt’s Mighty Back bi-swing stretch panel between the shoulders for instant recovery, the Flex Elbow with a stretch panel and articulated seams for less restriction, and the underarm Freedom Gusset to prevent sleeve ride-ups.

Meant to help brands construct apparel for endurance sports enthusiasts, spandex manufacturer Hyosung has developed high-performance Creora ActiFit spandex.

“The last thing an endurance athlete or outdoor enthusiast wants to worry about is if their gear is going to hold up in a race or even over time,” Mike Simko, Hyosung global marketing director for textiles, said. “Multi-sport apparel made with Creora ActiFit spandex will give athletes the confidence they need to focus on their sport and not be bothered by what they are wearing.”

In addition to Creora ActiFit, highlighted materials within Protect the Body include Mipan aqua X nylon and Askin polyester, which combine instant and sustained cooling with superior coverage. There’s also Aerolight lightweight polyester with wicking characteristics, Mipan Aeroheat and Aeroheat Extreme heat-generating nylon and polyester, and Creora Fresh spandex that helps neutralize causes of body odor.

All of this innovation is great for consumers, but some might question the sales and profitability of such specialized products.

Tim Boyle, president and CEO of Columbia Sportswear, told analysts when discussing first-quarter financial results that the company has “seen the effects of the innovation” it continues to be “heavily invested in, which gives us the opportunity to sell products.”

Columbia products such as Omni-Heat; OutDry, a new method of waterproof breathable construction, and the Omni-Shade Sun Deflector product are a few of those sales-driving innovations, Boyle said.

Scott Roe, chief financial officer at VF Corp., said on a conference call that the company’s The North Face brand’s product creation team has been “innovating some very, very strong products, and the growth that we’re seeing is really broad-based across each region.”

Roe said North Face’s recent growth has been across each elements of the business, from the core Mountain business to the Mountain Lifestyle business and the Urban Exploration.

“We are really seeing solid growth from each one of those particular consumer expressions of the brand,” he added. “And as we see this going forward, the innovations that are beginning with FutureLight” enable the brand to separate from competitors.

“We talk a lot about returning to that rightful leadership position not only from a product standpoint, [but] from the things this brand is doing from a positioning brand experience and a purpose led aspect,” Roe added. “We’re really confident and proud of where we stand,” with high single-digit growth “at this time a year is a strong outlook.”