In a bold and perhaps unexpected move, a company traditionally known for denim is taking on activewear with new and highly technical woven compression garments.
“It started out as a social responsibility project,” said Ogul Kivanc Arseven, ISKO’s innovation value manager of the new project, dubbed ISKO Vital, which has been in research and development for the past two years. The company debuted the product at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market last week.
Arseven explained that ISKO’s parent company founded Sanko University, which specializes in medical and health sciences. Working together with researchers there, ISKO’s team of innovators and engineers began trying to create a product to help patients with lymphedema, or swelling in the arms and legs.
The group looped in an Italian research foundation that specialized in the subject, all the while learning about the benefits of compression. “As we started developing our product, we saw that it could have additional wellness benefits to the areas of sports and even fashion,” Arseven said.
Further deviating from its role as a fabric supplier, ISKO Vital is one of the company’s first forays into fully finished, technical products.
With three patents on the ISKO Vital line including the proprietary compression mechanism, the weaving technology and the fabric itself, the garments are manufactured wholly by ISKO and sold to brands looking specifically to add compression technology to their mix. In addition to an extensive catalog of designs, brands and retailers can collaborate with ISKO Vital on new, proprietary products that fit their business needs.
“Our customers are not limited to our designs; we can work with their designers and their technology teams to make the garments that they want into compression garments. That way they can have their own, signature items,” Arseven said.
Most colors are achievable, though there are some limitations. Black and white are the line’s signatures, along with a range of blue denim hues. But there’s a virtually limitless array of finishes that can be added to the fabrics, he said, along with sublimation prints.
The benefits of compression aren’t limited to activewear, he went on. While the line includes a range of technical leggings for athletes, there are some denim-inspired fabrics and cuts reminiscent of run-of-the-mill skinny jeans, as well as some casual wear Arseven said was designed for air travel (and the altitude-induced swelling that comes with it).
The technical features, while well-hidden, are fully felt, Arseven said. Wearers will experience an initial feeling of warmth when they put on the garments, which dissipates after a few minutes.
The warmth comes from the quicker cycling of blood from the extremities to the heart, where it’s pumped through and “cleaned,” Arseven said, and sent back to the arms and legs.
“You recover faster. You avoid ‘elephant’ feet on long flights. Your recovery from vigorous exercise will be quicker. If you didn’t do a proper-pre-workout, this will allow you to avoid injuries,” he said.
The technology also purportedly helps reduce muscle fatigue and soreness, prevent strains, improve sport performance and posture, and improve muscle oxygenation. ISKO Vital has been approved by the FDA, the company said, as a general wellness product.
As for the future of the line, Arseven hopes brands will find varied use cases for the technology, across a range of categories. And, he said, research on a non-commercial medical-grade product will continue over the coming years, helping true sufferers of lymphedema and other conditions to find relief.