In this article we will look at the importance and benefits of different textiles in sportswear.
The number of people taking part in active sports, both on an amateur and professional, continues to grow each year. The global sportswear market is already in the billions and is showing signs, within the textile industry, of being one of the fastest growing markets. Additionally, in the recent years, the demand for high quality sportwear has also increased.
Luckily, the technology behind sportswear has drastically improved, using elements such as nanotechnology and microfibers to create clothing to enhance the wearer experience. With these technologies, textiles can enhance areas such as the overall comfort and even the performance and recovery of the wearer. Many amateur and professional athletes also now come to expect to find quality sportswear that can wick away sweat, not restrict movements, and be light weight as a standard.
So, what textiles are the most recommended for sportswear?
One of the most popular and common textiles is polyester. The strong fibres that create this textile has many properties that aid physical exercise. Polyester is a sweat wicking textile, meaning moisture and sweat can easily pass through the fabric to evaporate, allowing the wearer to stay dry and cool. In addition, the synthetic fibres that create polyester are incredibly durable, aiding to the longevity of the garment.
Below we take a look at some functional aspects that textiles need to address within the realm of sportswear.
There are many textiles used for the purpose of safety in sportswear. The development of synthetic fibres now provides many essential sportwear items that help keep the user safe.
Textiles like Kevlar for example can be found in hockey socks that are cut and graze resistant. The synthetic fibres within Kevlar have an incredibly high strength to weight ratio, meaning when crafted into garments, they provide unmatched protection.
Reflective polyester and other manufactured textiles are solving the issue of visibility of a wearer. In low light conditions, fog, and snow there is a danger to the user not being seen. These textiles increase the safety of the user by reflecting light back to the light source, for example with a vehicle’s headlights if someone is running by a road at night.
A restrictive fabric can inhibit performance in sport, so non-restrictive and stretchy textiles will offer a wider range of movement and ultimately a better performance. Elastane is the textile widely used for sportswear where movement is key. This textile is light weight, soft, strong, and incredibly stretchy without losing its shape so it is perfect in sportswear such as leotards, swimwear, cycling suits, and wetsuits.
Having comfortable sportswear is crucial for any athlete. Not being able to cool down, chafing, and injuries are all possible when not wearing correct and comfortable sportswear. For example, while using cotton as a textile for sportswear although is comfortable in the beginning, after sweating the high moisture absorption of the material will keep a wearer wet and colder for longer.
Textiles like elastane again provide comfort as the stretchy properties can reduce chafing when sportswear is more well fitted.
Specific Textiles Used For Sports
While running, keeping dry and comfortable are key points that can help you enjoy your run more and make all the difference whether it’s a smaller 5km run or a marathon. There are many textiles available to runners that carry properties such as being lightweight, sweat wicking, and durable.
Sweat wicking textiles are one of the most important features a runner could want in their fabric. Rather than having sweat and moisture trapped within the fabric and potentially causing the fabric to rub against the skin, sweat wicking fabrics allow for the moisture to pass through and eventually evaporate. Avoiding textiles like cotton is advised due to the textile’s quality of absorbing and trapping moisture within the fabric.
Runners should look for textiles such as nylon, polyester, and spandex just to name a few. Polyester textiles also have the added benefit of repelling UV rays.
Snug fitting swimming costumes and trunks reduces drag, so often swimwear is made from stretchy, lightweight, and sturdy material while having repeat exposure to salt in sea water or chemicals in swimming pools. Nylon, elastane, and PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate) all offer a stretchy, comfortable material with moisture wicking properties to be able to dry quicky. PBT has the added benefit to being UV resistant.
Cricket uniforms, also known as cricket whites, typically consist of a jumper, shirt, and trousers. The loose fitting clothing helps to not restrict a player’s movement. Depending on the season, cotton, polyester, wool, and spandex are all considered suitable fabrics, however fabrics that aid movement are preferred to prevent damage.
On average professional football players 15km in a single match, so having lightweight and sweat wicking properties within a kit is vital. In addition, a textile with a higher strength is necessary to prevent ripping during a tackle or holding another player’s shirt. In addition, gloves for goalkeepers must be durable, comfortable, and warm, while still offering a surface that is high-friction, and often rubbery, to aid in handling a football.