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Material Innovations: Performance Textiles

Article-Material Innovations: Performance Textiles

Material Innovations: Performance Textiles

From smart textiles enhancing performance to new cutting-edge technology, we've rounded up the latest straight from the textile labs of the most innovative brands.

The emergence of smart and interactive textiles has further bridged the gap between technology and fashion. Smart textiles are divided into two categories; Performance Enhancing or Aesthetic. Aesthetics enable fabrics to glow, respond to smart phones, and even connect to the latest virtual reality headsets. Performance enhancing smart textiles assist in human functions by monitoring such things as body temperature, adjusting breathability, and protection from UV. In this review will share new, unlikely collaborations as well as new textile innovations.

Performance Textiles

The future of performance textiles expands far beyond traditional athletic wear into contemporary designs, professional attire (suits, dress coats) and the denim industry. Textile brands, such as LYCRA®, have addressed this shift in performance textiles with their remarkable properties of stretch and recovery to improving the fit and overall freedom of movement. 

Intrinsic Values of Performance Textiles

  • Enhancement
  • Simplicity
  • High Quality
  • Highly Functional
  • Well-being
  • Utility

Performance Tailoring

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Photo credit: Zenga

On-the-go suiting and contemporary functional textiles are designed with the modern business entrepreneur in mind. These customers are in search comfort in all aspects of their lives and have high expectations from the fabrics they select. Providing quality, durability and style with the latest technology is key for this market segment.

Market Segments

  • Suits
  • Trousers
  • Golfing
  • Contemporary


  • Water resistant finishes
  • Stretch lining
  • Performance wool
  • Spandex
  • Cool effect
  • Wrinkle-resistance
  • Twist-yarns (2 way stretch)

Performance Tailoring Sections

1. High Performance Wool
Ermenegildo Zegna developed luxury tailored fabrics that move with the high-powered businessmen of today. HIGH PERFORMANCE woolen fabric that is machine washable, lightweight, wrinkle resistant and remained in shape was developed in 1985 and was reinvented in 2016. Additional inspiring fabrics that are being used by Zegna are:

  • HIGH PERFORMANCE® COOL EFFECT: An innovative finishing which maintains fabric coolness by enabling the surface of dark fabrics to reflect direct sunlight, and deflecting heat.
  • Micronsphere: A revolutionary treatment which provides complete stain resistance without affecting the natural feel of the yarn. Using nano-technology, High Performance is given a surface similar to that of a lotus leaf, which doesn’t absorb extraneous particles. 

2. Resistant Performance Wool
Vitale Barberis Canonico is one of the oldest companies in the world that produces fine fabrics, made with the best qualities of wool. 100% wool fabrics have a wind with a natural stretch and water-resistant finish that adds to performance suits sold by retailers such as J.Hilburn.

3. Technical Silk
The feminine movement from the innovative Technical Silk is a game changer for the contemporary fashion industry. The fabric is a blend of silk and polyester designed to be breathable, soft to the touch (idea of sensitive skin), lightweight, hypoallergenic and moisture wicking. This performance fabric was seen throughout the contemporary women’s collection for SS17 collections. 

4. High Twist Tools
Dunhill’s suit made from Camdeboo, the first shaving of mohair, similarly breathable due to the quality of the yarn suits made from 'high-twist’ wools that are open weave so the fabric breathes easier.


 The Sourcing Blog
Photo credit: Threadsmith hydrophobic stain -resistant shirt. 

In a time where everyone is on the go managing busy lifestyles, accidents are common. Whether it’s spilled food, liquids, or natural elements; technology is being developed to protect your apparel from the unexpected.

Target Market

  • Fitness
  • Travel
  • Outdoor
  • Sportswear
  • Childrenswear


  • Stain resistant
  • Hydrophobic nanotechnology
  • Breathability
  • Fade resistant
  • Antimicrobial textiles

"Everything-Proof" Sections

1. Nanotechnology-Integrated Apparel
Threads Smith is one of the leading apparel brands specializing in hydrophobic stain-resistance nanotechnology inspired by the natural self-cleaning properties of the lotus leaf. The technology extends the life of the clothing by allowing dirt and water to run off the fabric’s surface.

2. WhateverProof
Fillium’s patent-pending technology turns natural fibers into stain-resisting, water-repelling, odor refusing fabrics without any loss of comfort or breathability. Adding this extra layer of protection from those unexpected elements further extends the longevity of garments.

3. Self Healing
SEALTECH is a lightweight, water-resistant nylon ripstop that heals itself of minor punctures with the application of heat and friction developed by Canada’s Herschel Supply Co. It is used in two styles: a backpack and duffle and it provides an additional layer of durability to endure the daily grind, particularly those that carry pens, keys, or other sharp objects. This technology will assist to greater extend the life of goods produced with it.

4. Prevent Bacteria
X-STATIC® technology harnesses the power of permanently infused silver into the surface of fibers to inhibit the growth of bacteria that lives on fabric therefore eliminating human causing odor for the life of the garment. The garment maintains its freshness longer even after multiple washings. Company collaborations include such brands as Garneau, O’Neal, Lululemon, Saucony and Ariat.

The Reflective Performers

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Photo credit: Yiinggao

Gao worked with photo-luminescent thread and embedded eye-tracking technology into the dress' . Ying Gao, a fashion designer based in Geneva is creating clothing that combines urban design, architecture and multimedia, and uses sensory technologies to make garments more interactive.

Traditional performance wear is taken to the next level of nocturnal protection with technological advancements in reflective materials. The ability to be seen when it’s dark out has been around for ages, but never before has it been this stylish and advanced. Here we explore the latest innovations in reflective technology.

Market Segments

  • Skate
  • Runners
  • Cycling
  • Ski / Snowboarding
  • Streetwear / Urban

Reflective Materials

  • Reflective yarns
  • Reflective inks
  • Phosphorescent  
  • Retro Reflective lenses
  • Reflective embedded glass beads
  • Mini reflects dishes that reflect light

The Reflective Performers Sections

The have developed retro reflective technology from raw materials including glass beads and micro prisms. Reflective technology is obtained with the use of glass beads and micro prisms. The role of the glass beads is to reflect the incoming light to its original light source.  These yarns guarantee visibility at night and are ideal for sportswear, laces and woven labels. 

 The Sourcing Blog
Photo credit: SWICOFIL: Reflective technology is obtained with the use of glass beads 

2. Phosphorescent Polyester
Sinterama: GHOST is charged by a wide spectrum of visible light and even more by ultraviolet light whilst it discharges itself in the dark emitting a visible light. According to Sinterama the intrinsic phosphorescence of GHOST is due to the use of a new generation additive in the polymer; this additive is ten times more brilliant and longer-lasting than the normal phosphorescent pigments based on the conventional zinc sulphate. 

3. Splatter Reflective is a texturized 360º reflectivity print in a Four-way stretch Full-On® Luxtreme fabric produced by lululemon labs whose muses are NYC runners who are in need of ultra-reflective running gear. Pascale GuéraçagueBrooklyn-based Director of Concepts for Lululemon labs, “I created the original artwork by hand through a technique using a range of inks, paints, and tools. I was trying to go after something softer, layered, and textured."

 The Sourcing Blog
Photo credit: Lululemon Splatter Reflective running gear. 

4. Reflective Translucent Threads
Also from Lululemon, Reflective Translucent Threads are engineered in Switzerland by Ruth Kelly, our Raw Material Development Manager Ruth Kelly.


5. Future Inspired Performance Surfaces
VIXOLE MATRIX introduces the world’s first customizable tech/E-shoes with an AR/VR component.  This ultra smart shoe allows you to fully customize and change thousands of unique designs, photos and animations from your smartphones, which are displayed on the flexible LED screen at the back of the mid-top. In addition to the digital screen, there are eight embedded sensors which allow the displays to sync with the movement of the user.

 The Sourcing Blog

Performance Denim

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Photo credit: The Denim Active collection by Soorty

Is denim the new activewear? We are all aware of the continued growth of the active market with the explosion of athleisure, so it was only natural that consumers would look for similar comfort levels in their love of everyday staples like denim. To keep up with this boom, the denim industry has begun to explore new and innovate ways to push the limits of the functional movement and flexibility as well as high durability.

Research on the top purchase drivers for denim jean shoppers show that fit is at the top at 83% while comfort is at 74% for women. Men look first look for fit at 64% and close second comes comfort at 60%. These numbers only confirm the opportunities for great growth in this newly evolving market segment and here we will explore some of the latest innovations being developed for just that.

Market Segments

  • Fashion forward items
  • Active stretch
  • Childrenswear
  • Bi-Stretch
  • Lenzing Tencel fibre technology
  • Creora​


  • Stretch LYCRA® Spandex
  • Superpower Stretch by ISKOXMEN’S

Perfomance Denim Sections

1. Second Skin
The Denim Active collection by Soorty consists of second skin silhouettes made out of lightweight bi-stretch fabrics. Four-way stretch guarantees unrestricted movement and ultimate comfort. Even though denim is a traditionally heavyweight fabric, this Active Denim is feather light creating the feel of having a second skin with moisture control and greater freedom of movement.

2. Durability
Invista’s CORDURA® brand launched a softened strength Infinity denim featuring Lenzing Tencel fibre technology as part of its Authentic Alchemie collection. “By using Cordura fiber technologies combined with Tencel fibers, we build products to be comfortable and last. We are designing for durability, creating jeans that feel great and can be used in many situations and conditions from office to street, to outdoor… one jean created for a lifetime,” said Omer Ahmed, Director (Fabric Division), Artistic Milliners.

3. Superpower Stretch 
ISKO™ the producer of premium quality denim for ISKO XMEN’S™ has developed a stretch technology to enhance wearability, style and fit. It maintains a truly rigid, purist look with distinct twill lines and yarn character, while ensuring ease and versatility for every lifestyle. They have collaborated with both TOPMAN and Guess with their ISKO XMEN’S™denim production.  

4. Custom Denim
ISKO™ SCRATCH’N JEAN fabric was specially crafted to enable the wearer to become an artist and customized their jeans. The producers share how the simple scraping technique can make every pair of jeans a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.               

5. Denim Knits
LYCRA® HYBRID technology uses patent pending INVISTA constructions which combine the movement of a knit with the look of a classic woven denim fabric. There is a perfect blend of high stretch that recovers quickly and maintains fit so customers can go on with their activities while feeling and looking great.

6. Stretch Fit
Creora® Power Fit² was developed to meet consumers need for second skin with a 360º comfort and a lightweight hand. Four-way stretch denim fabric with Creora® eco-soft in warp and Creora® in fill direction. Super stretch with excellent recovery combined with new lightweights in denim for added comfort.

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