Functional materials are flooding the activewear market. Whether they combat something or are protective, anti- or regulating, all these materials have one goal in common: offering enhanced performance for unrivaled comfort and wellbeing. But today, consumers know that they can have even more: compressing and stimulating, insulating and warming, absorbing and protecting. Nowadays, technologies can be layered, combining actions to reinforce effects and mix features together. This can go all the way to offering 3 in 1: compression + protection + freshness.
Here’s a spotlight on the 5 essential functionalities in activewear:
Fabrics are considered anti-UV when they feature an SPF 50+ rating and are thus capable, through their composition or construction, of blocking the passage of solar radiation by reflecting 98% of UV rays. If measured exposure to UV rays, and UVB rays in particular, can be beneficial for health, excessive exposure to UVA, among other radiation, is a risk factor for irreversible damage to skin and eyes.
Whether they are compressive or shaping, these highly elastic knit fabrics seek to offer maximum comfort. Shapewear knits are thus necessary if their structure and elasticity help enhance the body, reshape the silhouette, and sculpt curves. Fabrics are said to be “compressive” when their action helps blood flow back to the heart and thus accelerate aerobic recovery. Improvements in performance, however, have not been scientifically proven.
3 – CHLORINE AND SALTWATER RESISTANCE
Chemical substances used for the treatment of swimming pool water, and the concentration of salt in seawater, cause a breakdown in swimwear textiles overall, and especially the parts made from elastane.
4 -TEMPERATURE REGULATION
Fabrics and knits are considered “thermoregulating”, “thermal”, or “climatic” when, through their construction, composition, or technology, they help to regulate body temperature. This regulation can happen by insulating from cold or heat, by ensuring rapid moisture evaporation (perspiration) toward
the outside, keeping the body dry, or by fostering a physical effect that provides a feeling of freshness or warmth.
5 – QUICK-DRY
Some textiles that are particularly hydrophilic, such a cotton, absorb moisture generated by perspiration and act like sponges. They thus save the body from a feeling of humid discomfort. Other fabrics, notably synthetics such as polyester, have a very low rate of absorption. Their hydrophobic fibers repel water droplets. They can rapidly carry perspiration toward the outside, thus allowing the fabric to dry quickly.