Innovation in sportswear

 

Innovation in sportswear

 

Extracts from the speech delivered by Mr.Rajkumar Agarwal, MD- SVG FASHIONS LTD at the Global show recently,

 

I  REPRESENT SVG Fashions Limited, a multi product textile and Apparel Manufacturer. Among other things, “SVG” is focused on and derives significant revenue from sportswear fabric and garments.

 

We can proudly claim to have contributed significantly towards import substitution as our clients used to import a major part of the fabrics that we now provide them.

 

I am here to speak about innovation in sportswear.

 

I think the biggest innovation that has taken place is the use of micro filament polyester and Polyester (Nylon), in place of cotton for sports apparels. Traditionally cotton was considered the fibre of choice because of its moisture absorbing and breathable properties, but now it is well established that polyester and polyester (nylon) are the right fibres for performance were.

 

Cotton  has the drawback of being able to retain upto 150% of its weight of water or sweat !! So for example  a cotton T-Shurt which typically weights around 200 gms, then for an athlete who is sweating, the weight of the T-Shirt could become 500gms. This is not desirable at all. Whereas a micro-polyester or polyamide T-shirt would initially weight may be 150 gms and due to its wicking properties, it will absorb the sweat but not able to retain it and therefore release it into the atmosphere, making the wearer feel dry as well as light.

 

However, polyester has become the fibre of choice for mass consumption mainly due to the cost factor.

 

Other recent innovations.

 

Other recent innovations can  be categorized in terms of the properties they impart to the apparel or the method of construction of the apparel or the source of the fibre or the aesthetics  or the perennial challenges which have been overcome or the method of production.

 

Let’s first talk about properties:

 

Moisture Management.

 

Good moisture wicking is one the most essential properties for any sports apparels.

 

Micro polyester treated with specified chemicals, mostly polyester resin, either at yarn stage or fabric stage can impart excellent wicking properties to the apparel.

 

Here, I must add, that some manufacturers use very low DPF yearns to improve wicking and softness but end  up failing the snagging test,. So we have to find the right balance between softness, wicking and goods snagging.

 

Antibacterial Finish.

 

One drawback of polyester is that it is conducive to breeding of bacteria. This can be overcome by treating the yarn of fabric with additives resulting in excellent Anti Bacterial properties in the garments.

 

Production from Ultra Voilet Rays.

 

Another property which is essential in some countries is protection from UV Rays. Dense Fabric in dark shares usually offers good protection naturally. However thinner materials and lighter shades need to be treated suitably.

 

Spandex Compatibility.

 

An important innovation which is becoming more and more indispensable is the use of spandex, Adding it imparts excellent stretch and hand feel to the fabric. Spandex blends very well with Polyamide (Nylon). Polyester with spandex used to be a challenge few years back because of different temperature requirements. However, innovations in spandex manufacturing have improved compatibility of polyester with spandex and now poly spandex is mass produced.

 

Ultra light fabrics.

 

Another recent development is the use of ultra light GSM  interlock fabric with GSM around 100 made from very fine count and fine guage. This reduces the weight of the garments upto 30%!! Even wicking properties improve and hand feel is wonderful!!

 

Cotton feel and look.

 

It is human nature to want the best attributes of all options in one. So we want to properties of polyester with the hand feel of cotton. This is now possible by using carbon brush to mildly scrape the surface of the polyester fabric. I have experienced that most users cannot guess fibre content after this treatment.

 

We can also get cotton feel by using spun polyester. However, most spoun polyesters have poor pilling and wicking properties.

 

Another requirement is so have polyester fabric with out sheen. This is now possible by using full dull polyester,.

 

Seamless Garments.

 

Another important innovation is seamless garments. This is an exciting development and with further fine tuning and cost reduction, could grab significant   market share.

 

Sustainability – The fibre source.

 

We now have availability of recycled polyester, this is made out of- Discarded pet bottles. This it is sustainable and takes care of a serious drawback of polyester which is that it is  not bio-degradable. Initially good quality was a challenge. Barriness was inherent in recycled polyester.

 

However now Reliance and Polygenta are able to provide excellent recycled polyesters.

 

Aesthetics

 

In terms of aesthetics, lot of innovations have taken place. Various options in polyester mélange are now available. Polyester blended with catonic polyester or Polyamide (nylon) in various blends provide unique aesthetics to the apparel. Dyed yarns and in particular space dyed yarns  are now available to provide a fashionable look to sportswear.

 

Lot of new structure have been developed where dace and back of the fabric are completely different and can be used to make reversible garments.

 

Hi-visibility/Saftey.

 

Various neon shades have been developed and are useful especially for runners apparel with Hi-visibility.

 

Hi-Fashion/ Trendy prints sublimation as well as Rotary Prints are now used to impart distinctiveness to the apparel.

 

Various types of mesh structures are being developed constantly to be used in cut  and sew in various proportions to create visually appealing as well as functionally improved performance wear.


Quality.

 

There have been various improvements in eliminating the perennial problems of polyester knits. Barriness or streaks is one of them. This used to be a yarn quality  issue. Taiwan is able to produce completely Barriness free yarn. However, it is expensive but now Reliance and some others have improved quality considerably. Hopefully in coming years we will be able to match Taiwan quality.

 

Most  sportswear involves cut and sew of dark shares with light shares. Here, good washing fastness become critical. Various techniques ha ve evolved including use of XF Dyes to overcome this issue.

 

In terms of production methods we  now have technology to dye fabric with out water by using CO. This is a significant innovation and causes Zero pollution. Soon this  should come to India once it becomes more affordable.

 

Innovative Fibres : Bamboo Fibre.

 

Of coursed we also have availability of bamboo fibre which is light breathable and has excellent wicking and UV protection properties. But It will be some time before it becomes viable for Mass consumption.

 

To some up, India I believe, is a nascent stage in terms of sportswear consumption. If we can take inspiration from Taiwan in terms of quality and China in terms of cost the n sky is the limit for growth in the sector.

 

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