Enhanced performance textiles cool you down when you’re hot, and help keep you warm when you’re cold. They also help you sleep better, perform better athletically, and stay cool and collected when it counts.
While high tech by design, such thermoregulatory properties can actually be found in nature. On a trip to Japan’s volcanic sand baths, the creator of Cocona Labs and its resulting 37.5 Technology discovered he could withstand the high levels of heat due to a mineral that balanced heat gain and heat loss through moisture management. He struck on the idea to harness this technology for consumer use by embedding natural minerals into materials used to make apparel, footwear, bedding, home goods and more.
The number 37.5 brings the concept back to nature and the human body. “The number 37.5 is a unique and special number that goes right to the heart of the technology and the brand,” said Scott Whipps, EVP global apparel, Cocona Labs. “It represents the intersection of human comfort and performance, where 37.5 degrees Celsius is within the ideal range of human core temperature, and 37.5 percent is within the ideal level of relative humidity next to the human skin.”
To enhance comfort, the key for the technology is to create a microclimate around the skin where sweat is removed in the vapor stage before it turns to liquid. Such thermoregulation not only keeps wearers cooler in hot weather or during exertion, but it also enhances the body’s athletic performance.
To understand this increased performance, the University of Colorado conducted a study with endurance cyclists. In results published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, the tests proved that when wearing the shirt embedded with 37.5 Technology, athletes were able to increase their performance by up to 26 percent when compared to cyclists wearing the same shirt without the technology.
“And when you start with endurance or hardcore athletes, you prove that your concept will work through life’s everyday situations as well,” said Whipps.
But while 37.5 Technology enhances performance textiles, it is not to be confused with wicking or phase-change materials, said Beth Amason, VP of fabric innovation at Cocona Labs. “37.5 Technology manages the humidity within your microclimate,” she said. “Meanwhile, wicking treatments, which can be achieved by a fabric construction or a finish, basically just spread liquid sweat across the fabric. With phase-change materials, which are wax-based and rely on conductive cooling, the capacity is limited by the amount of technology that you can put in the fabric.”
In addition to comfort and performance, Whipps and Amason explained how the company is also creating more sustainable garments. All 37.5 Technology yarns and fibers are available in recycled versions that can blend with any natural or regenerated cellulosic fiber. In addition, by the end of this year, Cocona Labs will be adding an enhanced biodegradation* additive to all of yarns and fibers that will accelerate the degradation process in a landfill.
To watch the Fireside Chat, click the image above.
*Third party laboratory testing under ASTM D5511 (accelerated landfill environment) showed 78% biodegradation of 37.5 PET staple fiber in 726 days. The stated rate and extent of degradation will vary by landfill and fabric type and does not mean that the material will continue to degrade.