The Difference Between Lycra, Spandex, and Elastane

Fashion Questions & Answers

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What's the difference between Lycra® Fiber, Spandex and Elastane?

LYCRA® fiber is the trademarked brand name of a class of synthetic elastic fibers known as spandex in the U.S., and elastane in the rest of the world. Spandex and elastane are interchangeable terms that mean the same thing, but only INVISTA produces authentic LYCRA® brand fibers.

Because of its elasticity and strength (stretching up to five times its length), spandex has been incorporated into a wide range of garments, especially in skin-tight garments. A benefit of spandex is its significant strength and elasticity and its ability to return to the original shape after stretching and faster drying than ordinary fabrics.

For clothing, spandex is usually mixed with cotton or polyester, and accounts for a small percentage of the final fabric, which therefore retains most of the look and feel of the other fibers.

Spandex, Lycra or elastane is a synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity. It is stronger and more durable than natural rubber.  It is a polyester-polyurethane copolymer that was invented in 1958 by chemist Joseph Shivers at DuPont's Benger Laboratory in Waynesboro, Virginia.

Learn more about spandex fiber and Lycra fiber.

Learn more about the Lycra brand.