What are performance fabrics?
Performance fabrics are textiles
that provide added benefits such as waterproofing, stain protection,
odor detouring, antibacterial, flame resistance, body temperature
cooling or heating, etc. Because of such added benefits one of the
hottest trends in fashion is performance fabrics.
With so many competing products
claiming to offer “performance," it can be difficult for consumers of
clothing & footwear to sort through all the hype and recognize that some
performance material offerings require compromises in one way or
another. It is possible that the look and
fabric hand feel may not match that of non-performance fabrics.
For example, a fabric may be waterproof, but can potentially have a
stiff feel, or a fabric may offer ease of cleaning for a minor spill,
but bleach or acetone cannot be used for really tough stains without
damaging the fabric. This is not to say that all waterproof
fabrics would have a poor hand feel. The point is that you would
have to review each fabric carefully for its positive and negative
Many of today’s so-called performance fabrics are created by applying a
coating to an ordinary fabric. The coating may be an inexpensive
means of enhancing such properties as water repellency and ease of
cleaning. On the negative side, while these fabrics may look and feel
stylish, their performance features will diminish over time and their
range of performance characteristics will be limited. The fabric might
be easy to clean during the first few months, but that feature could
disappear with long-term use and without regular reapplication of the
coating. If you purchased clothing with this type of coating on
the fabric, it is highly unlikely that you will be re-coating the
fabric. While virtually every performance fabric relies on high
performance treatments, consumers would be well advised to look for
performance features embedded directly into the fabric rather than only
coated onto the fabric.
True “performance fabrics" are typically entirely engineered to meet a
set of specific requirements such as abrasion resistance, fade
resistance, ease of cleaning, etc. Fiber composition, yarn
construction, weaving techniques and finishing applications all play a
part in how well the fabric will endure in a stressful environment.
Engineered performance fabrics can be more expensive than alternatives,
but offer the best value and the fewest compromises between durability
When clothing companies are making
decisions in regard to purchasing performance fabrics, they should take
environmental concerns and safety into the decision making process.
Fabric companies and apparel makers should be committed to extensive
testing of their products, including long-term exposure to actual
environmental conditions in a variety of climates. Some of the
chemicals used to enhance the performance of fabrics can be bad for
indoor air quality if those chemicals leach from the fabric into the
air. It is also important to monitor coatings to make sure that they do
not irritate the consumers skin.
Consumer should also conduct their
own research to identify fabrics that have a solid history of engineered
performance and safety. Careful research will also help identify
compromises in performance, look or feel that are inherent in many
If you are looking for fabrics made
for a variety of end-use applications, which provide functional
qualities, such as moisture management, UV protection, anti-microbial,
thermo-regulation, and wind/water resistance and breathability, you are
looking for performance fabrics.
Below are a few examples:
Dupont Performance Fabrics: Sorona Colorful Performance Fabrics with
Comfortable Stretch. Activewear manufacturers and consumers alike
appreciate the comfort stretch of DuPont™ Sorona® because it provides
freedom of movement, making outdoor activities more enjoyable.
Ideal for use in performance fabrics for active outdoor apparel, Sorona®
provides comfort stretch and good color fastness to maintain bright,
bold colors. And for the consumer, performance fabrics made with Sorona®
resist fading from harsh UV light and can withstand repeated washings,
extending the garment’s life.
Milliken Performance Fabrics: Milliken provides hard-working and
comfortable performance manufactured fabrics for athletic uniforms and
ball caps, imagewear and workwear, collegiate garments, shapewear as
well as performance athletic apparel and hunting apparel. They also
make fabrics for industrial applications such as healthcare,
hospitality, table linens, office interiors, labels, and much more.
Milliken's technologies enable the superior performance of their
fabric (Milliken) Combines an effective long-lasting odor control
and stain release with a moisture management fabric for easy care.
Available for a variety of uses, including active athletic wear,
hunting fabrics and medical scrubs.
StainSmart® fabric (Milliken)
Get the easy care of a fabric that effectively and easily repels and
releases stains bundled with the comfort of wicking. Available in
garments, hospitality fabrics and airwall fabrics.
BioSmart® fabric (Milliken)
Bacteria and viruses collect on garments throughout the day. But
BioSmart® fabric substantially diminishes contamination to support
even the strictest safety programs.
Napery (Milliken) Decades of
research and technology have gone into the making of a line of table
linen fabrics, including industry-leading brands such as Signature®
Plus fabric, Damask HD™ fabric and Visa® Plus fabric, that sets the
standard in the industry.
Invista: When total focus on your performance is key,
COOLMAX® EXTREME fabric is what you want—a no-nonsense fabric that
meets your most-demanding standards. Engineered and designed for
the serious sports participant, COOLMAX® EXTREME fabric delivers the
very best. This is the moment in which a few seconds make all the
difference. With the confidence brought by hours of training mind and
muscles, you want to know that your body is at its peak condition. Count
on COOLMAX® EXTREME fabric, with its state-of-the-art moisture
management properties, to deliver the power of unwavering performance.
COOLMAX® EXTREME fabric effectively moves perspiration from the body and
through the fabric, where it can evaporate quickly. The thermoregulatory
effect of moisture transport helps keep skin temperature low. It meets
the highest INVISTA standard for COOLMAX® fabric. COOLMAX® is a
trademark of INVISTA.
Learn more about
fabric here on Apparel Search.
If you are a clothing manufacturer
interested in purchasing fabrics for garment production, you may want to
also read about
fabric utilization here in the textile industry terms section.