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Polartec’s Latest Fabric Innovation is Engineered to Reduce Fiber Shedding

Polartec, a provider of innovative and sustainable textiles, is launching Polartec Power Air, a new fabric technology engineered to reduce fiber shedding.

The new platform, which encapsulates lofted fibers within a multilayer, continuous yarn fabric construction, offers advanced thermal efficiency that the company said is proven to shed five times less than other premium mid-layer weight fabrics. Fiber shedding has been linked to ocean pollution when polyester fibers escape from apparel during washing and make their way into the wastewater stream.

Despite being known for making resilient materials, Polartec recognizes that any exposed fiber is susceptible to shedding as a function of normal wear. Insulation that effectively regulates core body temperature has traditionally been made with lofted or high-pile knit structures that hold warm air. The Polartec Power Air construction process mitigates this by encasing the insulating lofted fibers within the knitting process.

“By using the efficiency of encapsulated air to shelter lofted fibers, Polartec Power Air will drastically improve how fabrics perform over their lifetime with respect to versatility, comfort and sustainability,” Polartec CEO Gary Smith said. “We’re only beginning to realize the potential for this new type of fabric construction.”

While creating a more environmentally sound construction was the initial inspiration for Power Air, the company said the innovation also enables greater design versatility, with distinctive fabric effects. The initial release features an internal grid structure on one side, similar to fabric bubble wrap, which simultaneously holds air and increases breathability, while the other side features a smooth, durable outer surface that resists pilling and minimizes drag.

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Polartec feels that Power Air—which it claims is the first fabric construction to encase air with a continuous yarn—is a “foundational technology platform” that will lead to providing shedding reduction to all existing apparel categories, including insulation, lightweight next-to-skin and extreme weather protection.

Mike Rose, vice president of product development at Polartec, said, “Power Air has the potential to be our most significant development since pioneering the process to knit fabrics made of post-consumer plastic bottles.”

Power Air is the culmination of a multi-year development consisting of thousands of work hours and dozens of iterations, and is the latest product of Polartec Eco-engineering, the process through which Polartec uses recycled materials, advanced production techniques, efficient logistics and rigorous testing and certifications to create an innovation pipeline devoted to producing sustainable fabrics with elite performance characteristics.

In the case of Polartec Power Air, a new testing protocol had to be invented to measure shedding due to home laundering. The protocol simulates dozens of launderings in a single cycle to accurately capture any microfibers lost in a lifetime of use. The test then accurately determines the percentage of weight loss due to shedding.

Polartec Power Air technology will be publicly unveiled on Thursday at Performance Days in Munich, Germany. The Polartec Power Air Hoody will also be immediately available from Adidas, with more brands, including Houdini and Mammut, set to release their own offerings in the coming months.