No longer satisfied to just follow the pack, today’s savviest consumers are building their intimate apparel and activewear wardrobes based on individual needs, lifestyles and preferences. Because of that, they’re increasingly willing to invest in premium pieces made of high-quality fabrics.
How can Lululemon charge upwards of $100 for a pair of leggings designed to be exercised in? Why can Victoria’s Secret price its best-selling bra, which isn’t necessarily even going to be seen by anyone other than the wearer, at $60? These companies have connected with consumers through aspirational branding, engaging stores and addictive shopping experiences, and have become their go-to sources of beautiful, quality garments.
Brands like Lululemon and Victoria’s Secret have earned their positions by respecting their customers and consistently offering products worthy of their price tags. While excellent design, construction and style have always been important to consumers, especially women, fabric quality is becoming increasingly important, particularly in this era of fast fashion players who are compromising fabric composition and construction in order to lower costs.
Giving consumers what they want
Though natural fabrics like silk and cotton have an undeniable cachet, consumers of intimate apparel and activewear have gravitated toward manmade fabrics like nylon for their performance traits, such as cooling, heating, moisture management and antibacterial properties, as well as for their superior tactile aesthetics, or how a garment feels against the body.
As consumers get increasingly used to sweat-wicking yoga pants that move effortlessly with every bend and twist of the body without losing their shape, and to underwear that feels as soft, smooth and sexy as silk but that can be tossed into a washing machine and dryer without a second thought, low-cost, low-quality fabrics are no longer going to be an option. Especially when higher price points are in play.
The fabrics leading the pack
When people hear the phrase “manmade fibers,” most automatically think of polyester. And while some polyester fabrics, like Ultrasuede and Dri-FIT, are found in premium apparel, garden variety polyester fibers aren’t exactly known for creating luxurious garments. For next-to-the-body apparel like sport tops and shapewear, polyester’s tendency to retain odor is an added problem.
Enter nylon. In and of itself considered a premium fiber, the highest quality version of nylon is Nylon 6.6, the original nylon invented as an alternative to silk for women’s hosiery. Often combined with a small amount of Lycra or other spandex, Nylon 6.6 has established itself as a major player in innerwear and athletic wear markets, where the performance of a fabric is just as important as the look and feel.
In its ultra-sexy Dream Angels intimates collection, Victoria’s Secret uses a silky, lustrous knitted fabric of finer-denier nylon and spandex.
Wildly successful yoga brand Lululemon has always been known for its premium, innovative performance fabric Luon. Luon is moisture-wicking, features a four-way stretch and has the feel of cotton. This combination of performance and touch traits is achieved through a blend of 86 percent Nylon 6.6 and 14 percent Lycra.
With workout clothes increasingly being worn outside of the gym and in everyday life, multi-talented Nylon 6.6 fiber and its specialty variants are becoming more and more sought-after.
One of the most exciting developments in Nylon 6.6 is Nilit® Innergy. Fabrics made of this revolutionary new fiber not only provide wearers with the comfort and smooth feel of Nylon 6.6, but also take performance traits a step further with enhanced sports and cosmetic benefits. Nilit® Innergy uses the far infrared (FIR) rays naturally emitted by the body in a way that stimulates and invigorates, enhancing athletic performance and recovery and improving appearance. In a recent study conducted in Italy, a group of women who wore tights made from Nilit® Innergy all day for almost two months actually lost fat mass and inches. Their skin elasticity improved and cellulite became less pronounced. In another study, athletes wearing garments made of Nilit® Innergy-containing fabrics were able to perform at higher levels, reported feeling more invigorated and energized, and recovered more quickly.
For today’s consumers, options abound
With more women’s specialty brands expanding into intimates, activewear and athleisure, and with the explosion of omnichannel and e-commerce, consumers now have more options available to them than ever before. There’s no more settling for whatever’s available. Consumers are able to make purchase decisions based on factors like preference, quality, brand reputation, price point and reviews, with consumer reviews being a major reason brands aren’t able to skimp on fabric quality without consequence.
Not only do consumers now have a tremendous amount of options available for purchase, they also have a voice like never before. Online reviews, fashion blogs, Instagram, Facebook and tumblr accounts are just a few of the sources consulted by consumers prior to making clothing purchases. If a garment’s fabric doesn’t justify its price point, consumers are going to know.
J. Crew, a brand whose loyal customer base was the envy of the women’s specialty apparel sector, has seen its sales and profits suffer in the past two years, which many industry-watchers attribute to negative reviews on social media about the brand’s workmanship, fit, and fabric quality.
Brands that are willing to invest in quality fabrics are rewarded with higher price points, better brand reputation and happier customers – which all equates to better business.
Sponsored by Nilit.