If you have been in a retail store shopping lately you have seen the words “performance wear.” It is now on everything from dog beds at pet stores to underwear by Jockey – and on every polo and tee shirt you see. This means your clients are seeing it everywhere too. This is the perfect opportunity to educate them about what the words “performance wear” really mean. Educating a client about fabrics and technology is a great way to add value to your business relationship. The best part is you don’t need to be an expert on these terms; suppliers are more than happy to explain their fabrics and technology in depth.
Before we get into the “Moisture Management” technology, it is important to understand the role the fabric plays. You have the natural fibers such as cotton and the synthetics such as polyester. Cotton is a naturally a water-loving fiber and will absorb water and perspiration very easily. The problem with cotton is that it holds on to that water and won’t give it up. Anyone who has worn a cotton shirt at the gym or has gotten caught in a summer shower knows that once you’re wet it takes forever for the cotton t-shirt to dry. Polyester, a man-made synthetic, hates water and won’t absorb it. You don’t end up with a soaked shirt when you sweat, but the moisture stays on your skin. You end up cold and clammy, with sweat dripping down your back. This is where technology steps in to bring the best of both worlds together. Take the polyester and treat it so it absorbs the water, drawing it through the fabric to the outer layer where it then evaporates. And voila! – a quick drying shirt that leaves you feeling comfortable.
Word of caution about wicking treatments, most people do not understand that they have a limited life. Limited life means with every wash the garment tends to lose a little more of their wicking effectiveness. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully, otherwise you could reduce the wicking very quickly. Chlorine bleach and fabric softeners are two things to avoid. Bleach will eat away at the fabric’s treatment and fabric softeners will add an invisible film over your moisture management treatment which will drastically reduce its wicking.
TRENDS IN MOISTURE MANAGEMENT
While polos and t-shirts are the obvious choice for wicking treatments, the industry is starting to see a wide variety of mid-layer pullovers and jackets that feature moisture management technology. These mid-layer garments such as sporty pullovers, yoga sets, and athletic warm-ups are meant to be worn over a basic tee or lightweight polo (or even over a treated wicking shirt). Though not as effective as a wicking fabric worn over bare skin, wicking technology applied to an outer layer does help transfer the moisture to the surface of the garment where it can evaporate and is a nice value-added feature when up-selling a jacket to a client.
Moisture management’s expansion will only continue to grow in popularity and be added to new types of products. The next few years should also bring better built, longer-lasting wicking technology. Nike in fact, is already working to create a moisture management technology that not only wicks moisture away but regulates the wicking. By regulating the rate at which t he wicking occurs, they aid in controlling a person’s body temperature, thus actually enhancing an athlete’s performance by giving them an optimal body temperature during their activity. Gives a whole new meaning to “cool apparel.”
President & Owner,
Charles River Apparel