Genue Inc.
March 12, 2018

The New Wave of Tech Textiles

Photo of Nylons



In the world of textile lovers, artists, and designers, there are two clear camps: natural or synthetic. ‘Natural’ in this context means a textile made from entirely, or predominantly, natural fibers, such as flax, cotton, silk, and wool. These fibers have been around for most of human history; cultivating clothing crops is a practice that dates back to the very first woven cloth, sometime around 22,000 – 29,000 years ago!



On the other hand, ‘synthetic’ textiles are definitely the new kid on the block here. The first synthetic textile, or manmade textile, was Nylon, developed by Wallace Carothers, a chemical scientist working for the company DuPont in the 1930s. Along with Nylon came polyester, which was brand named Dacron in the 1940s. In 2014, production of synthetic fibers was 55.2 million tons.



Our March theme, Athleisure, is a recent fashion trend, yes, but a contributing factor to the trend’s success is the new wave of synthetic textiles being developed and manufactured. Branded as ‘tech textiles,’ these textiles are lauded for increased durability, breathability, water and stain resistance.



Outlier’s Doublefine Merino Pullover


Most of these ‘new tech’ textiles are synthetic fabrics, but some of the higher end technical wear garb rely heavily on merino wool as the fiber base. The unifying quality for all of these fabrics is that they have some added function that goes unnoticed. Take, for instance, Brooklyn brand Outlier, and their line of men’s technical wear. Their Doublefine Merino Pullover is a beautiful sweater from the outside but boasts the added benefits of sweat-wicking and odor absorption. Although these items are more expensive than your standard sweater, the idea is you wear these technical layers the same way you would a winter jacket–wearing them for a number of years until you feel they have served their purpose, instead of throwing them away when they inevitably wear out in a few months. As someone who is very passionate about textile waste and overconsumption of clothing, I can totally get behind this model.






Even the mass-market retailer, Uniqlo, has their own line of technical wear, branded as ‘LifeWear.’ My favorites from this line include their HEATTECH under layers, which are lightweight, and simple versatile shaped basics. The difference between a HEATTECH t-shirt, and a normal t-shirt, according to Uniqlo, is that a HEATTECH layer will keep you warmer than your normal cotton t by actually creating heat from your body’s natural moisture.



As someone who has lived in a city for the last decade, functional, durable, simple, comfortable clothing is the key to a successful day. I’m interested to see where these technical fabrics and clothes go in the future, and in the meantime, Uniqlo’s HEATTECH really does work, so if you’re one of those people who are often cold, this one’s for you!

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