The buzz has been about performance, but products won’t sell unless they score on style
Performance properties get all of the hype, but increasingly, without a strong design element garments are likely to stall rather than sell.
Innovation is essential for activewear fabrics and fibers, and in this sector function remains top of mind for consumers.
At Performance Days (Munich, May 15-16) we could see that fabric developers are realizing that functional properties are now an expected part of activewear. To drive sales, there has to be an additional element in the form of creativity and style. In the early days of performance fibers and fabrics you could offer a basic looking product and it would sell. No longer.
Positioned at the end of the season, this niche fair was ideal for a last minute roundup of the more advanced design and developments for the season. Performance Days has become a platform for European active and outdoor brand developers and designers to meet in a relaxed atmosphere.
Trending Functional Properties
Anti-odor. This is getting lots of attention. Why? Clothing stays fresh longer, less domestic laundering, perfect for the travel markets. Sport kit stays fresher for longer.
Thermal-regulation. Adapting to the environment keeping the consumer comfortable at all times.
Heat regulating fabrics.
FIR energizing yarns and finishes.
New topical finishes that enhance the hand feel of fabrics.
Layered systems within fabrics - permanent performance coming from the yarns completed with topical finish for multi performance.
Cool touch fabrics.
Moisture management is now a norm, combined with a variety of other functions for the season.
Customization. Trims are playing a key role here. From unique closures to heat transfers.
Creativity. Regardless of the level of function, outside of the die-hard high performance market, activewear needs to have a big style impact. Brands are looking to materials that offer both function and fashion.
Enhanced Touch. Hand feel is a ‘must’ in all apparel sectors. Activewear base layers are looking to achieve the same soft touch found in intimate apparel.
Luxe-Leisure. Materials are looking to high-end ready-to-wear for a more luxurious look and feel. Merino wool, lyocell, Supima and fine count cotton for base layers are taking activewear in an upscale direction.
Lighten Up. Lighter weight garments for more comfort. New feather weight fabrics (all of the durability with less weight) are a key direction.
Sustainability. No surprise here…the activewear market is at the heart of the sustainability movement. Biodegradable is word that we heard with increasing frequency. Right now, that points towards using more natural fibers.