Eye On Apparel: Performance Fabric
Technology has not only made our lives more connected and convenient, it’s also transformed our clothes. Whether worn for sports, work or military service, performance fabrics are increasingly in demand among end users because of their ability to keep us dry and protected, and to help regulate our body temperature. Performance fabric is the fastest-growing segment of the global textile industry, according to Zion Market Research. The global performance fabric market is projected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.8 percent by 2020 to reach a market size of $80 billion that same year.
Demand for performance fabrics is also influencing the promotional and corporate uniform market. Vicki Ostrom, trend editor for supplier SanMar (PPAI 110788), says that functionality such as stain-resist and release properties, and a wrinkle-free appearance after washing are increasingly popular items.
“The SuperPro family from Port Authority has become a customer favorite,” she says. “The technology on the fabrics allows for stain resist and release while retaining its wrinkle-free appearance, shape and color wash after wash. We started with an oxford shirt for men and women, and have since added a SuperPro twill shirt in a variety of styles, and a SuperPro polo.”
Ostrom adds that as climates get progressively hotter, odor-control technology is in high demand. But if your budget doesn’t allow for the expense of odor-controlling antimicrobial treatments, Sean Mahoney, vice president at OMNI Apparel, Inc. (PPAI 266770), says that new laundry products on the market can stand in for odor-control technology. “The longest-performing antimicrobial fabric treatments last about 50 washes, but sport washes such as Tide For Sport or Hex can extend the lives of polyester promotional shirts by stripping the bacteria that adhere to polyester fabrics,” he says.
Performance apparel is popular among all generations as offices get more casual, says Ostrom, and that trend has had a big influence on the company’s product offerings.
“We have revisited every core item that we offer and looked at them with the eye of innovation, adding technology as possible. The push for us when developing any technology for our styles is that it retain a great hand feel and be able to wick moisture away from the body.”
Since layering is the current trend in dressing for men and women, the weight of each piece is more important than ever, Ostrom emphasizes. “Wearing a soft shell or sporty hybrid jacket with a woven shirt (and tie for the guys) is now a common businesswear option. We have realized that innovation, in some cases, means simply finding a way to make a fabric lighter weight and still perform.”
Fast Facts About Performance Fabrics
OMNI Apparel, Inc. is the industry’s source for Zorrel, a line of performance wear that combines style with state-of-the-art technology. PPB asked OMNI Vice President Sean Mahoney what he thinks are the most important factors for distributors to consider when evaluating specialized apparel for their clients. Here is what he says about each of the following categories:
For the best performance, look for apparel that has moisture-wicking technology inherent—at the yarn level—rather than just treated with a topical finish, which will wash off in about 20 washes.
Heavier-weight fabric is not necessarily better. Look for apparel made with the new hollow core yarns, which allow air in the yarn to be warmed by body temperature, leading to better warming ability in a lighter fabric.
Your best bet for the coolest and most comfortable protection is a long-sleeve shirt with a 50+ rating in a light color since dark colors absorb UV rays and turn them into heat. However, a dark color offers even greater protection against sunburns.
Look for products that are EPA regulated and registered, and that are proven 100-percent effective. Zorrel’s Insect Shield® technology fabrics test to be 100-percent effective for 70 launderings and are exclusive to the promotional and corporate uniform industry.
Topical treatments are great but eventually wash off. Advise end users to launder polyester performance apparel with a sport wash to eliminate bacteria and extend the life of polyester apparel.
Geiger’s David Hawes, MAS+, (above right) recently met with entrepreneur and Shark Tank star Daymond John at an industry show and used the opportunity to showcase the power of promotional products to improve lives. He presented John with an honorary Walk Star WalKit, which included a 24-ounce Contigo Kangaroo, SoulKix custom shoes, a SanMar t-shirt and a shoe bag, to communicate the health benefits (presented as ROI) of walking 30 minutes a day. The theme of the kit meshed with both John’s career as an investor and his speech at the event, which included an emphasis on exercising and staying healthy. For any sports or health-related event or promotion, this type of kit could include performance wear to give end users even greater comfort while they exercise.
These Garments Go The Extra Mile While Looking Great
For custom performance, choose this made-in-the-USA track jacket, which features lightweight polyester spandex performance fabric, solid cuffs and trim, an unlined interior, and can
be customized with any design. Or, choose one of many stock patterns. It’s also available in ladies’ cuts.
FPS Apparel / PPAI 273314 / www.fpservicesapparel.com
Made of quick-drying, stain-resistant polyester/spandex blend, the Flexfit Delta® seamless cap features the Flexfit® Delta® logo on the side and comes in six colors.
Kati Sportcap & Bag / PPAI 113758 / www.katisportcap.com
This water-repellent vest, paired with a favorite top, is a versatile choice for cool days. The outer layer resists wind and is coated with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish that lets water bead up and roll off. The middle layer is a highly breathable membrane and the inner layer is soft microfleece for warmth. With contemporary styling, including a full-length wind guard, standup collar, chin guard and reflective pulls on the main and pocket zippers, the vest has a left inside embroidery access point to keep the decoration away from the shirt underneath. It’s available in navy, black and silver in men’s sizes regular S-6XL and ladies’ XS – 4XL.
Edwards Garment Company / PPAI 198530 / www.edwardsgarment.com
The water-resistant, 100-percent polyester Taiga jacket features a honeycomb-textured exterior soft shell and a bonded waffle textured Thermo-Fleece interior with a breathable film layer. The result is an undeniably cool technical jacket that is also soft on the skin and extremely comfortable to wear.
Fossa Apparel, Inc. / PPAI 330885 / www.fossaapparel.com
Performance fleece fabric with an easy-glide finish makes this pullover hooded sweatshirt a cinch to pull on. With piping detail at the raglan sleeve, a front pouch pocket and reinforced rib knot cuffs and waistband detail, this sweatshirt also wicks moisture and will dry quickly from internal or external moisture. The garment is available in solid stock fabrics and distributors can choose their own color combinations or can create their own look with the custom sublimation process. It’s available in men’s and ladies’ sizes up to 5X at no additional charge.
Head To Toe / PPAI 112077 / www.httapparel.com
For cooling comfort choose this six-ounce 100-percent polyester polo shirt with UltraCool® moisture-wicking and antimicrobial technology. Accented with contrast panels along the shoulders and sides for a sporty look, the polo also features a rib collar, three-button placket, square bottom and open cuffs, plus a heat-seal label.
Tri-Mountain / PPAI 134335 / www.trimountain.com
This lightweight dry-wicking polo is made in the USA and is equally at home in the office or on the golf course. The eye-pleasing checked pattern is consistent enough to not fight a logo but has enough presence to look like a retail offering. With a no-curl collar, and made from 100-percent 4.75-ounce dry wicking polyester, this polo is comfortable and stylish enough to wear anywhere. Available colors include black, navy, French blue, steel blue, hunter, white, red and burgundy, and it comes in men’s sizes S-4XL and ladies’ sizes S-3XL.
AKWA Apparel / PPAI 205981 / www.akwa.com
Zorrel’s Dri-Balance™ long sleeve t-shirt with EPA-registered Insect Shield® technology repels mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and midges (including those that can carry dangerous diseases such as Lyme, malaria, Dengue fever and the Zika virus). The repellency lasts for the expected lifetime of the product.
OMNI Apparel, Inc. / PPAI 266770 / www.zorrel.com
The Space Dye Performance Pullover keeps wearers dry and odor free. This 100-percent polyester, yarn-dyed jersey knit features a unique space dye effect while Topshield™ technology wicks away moisture. Antimicrobial fabric properties, raglan sleeve styling for increased range of motion, and double-needle cover stitching on seams for added durability make this quarter-zip style perfect for layering on mild days. A heat-sealed back neck label cuts down on irritation caused by friction and sweat. It’s available in men’s, women’s and youth sizes and in a variety of fun colors.
Charles River Apparel / PPAI 111644 / www.charlesriverapparel.com
Julie Richie is an Austin, Texas-based writer and former associate editor for PPB.