Although the use of high-tech materials in sports is nothing new, technical textiles designed for the sports market are a growing segment. In recent years, we have been observing a shift in consumer habits, meaning that high-tech synthetic fabrics are more and more on-trend and their applications are widespread not only in sportswear.
Next, we will complete our top 10 and go over more high-tech performance fibers and applications. But first, if you are still not familiar with all the possibilities to include in your sportswear collections, click here and read part one.
Smart Textiles in Sports
With respect to performance sportswear, it’s not just the design, fit, or materials it is made from. Essentially, the entire process of development and production can have a significant effect on the effectiveness of the product. Modern-day technology in sportswear not only makes garments look and fit better but can also help athletes perform better.
Manufacturers use both natural and man-made raw materials. While natural fibers are predominant, synthetic materials already account for 40% of total fiber consumption across the entire textile industry (WhichPLM, 2019). In 2020, synthetic fibers accounted for approximately 62 percent of global fiber production.
Smart textiles in sports and leisure are extremely diverse. Below we present you the second part of the most popular technical textiles available and their technical textile applications.
6 - E-textiles and Yoga Wearables
E-textiles (short for electronic textiles) are taking our lives by storm. They incorporate electronics such as sensors, batteries, LEDs, and computing devices into fabrics. This results in wearable technology, which can monitor heart rates or even enable users to compete and join online classes with friends.
Today, longer-lasting performance wear combined with conductive materials is in demand. As an outcome of a hyper-engaged consumer, this increasing trend during the lockdown months will for sure stick around for a while. You can even find biometric yoga pants that teach the practice step-by-step through vibration and accelerometers near the hips, knees, and ankles.
7 - Smart Textiles for Sports Medicine
Intelligent textiles are gaining a larger share — both in volume and value — in a large variety of sectors. Given that such devices are in close contact with the user, they can easily collect data on a user's health, turning the application possibilities in the healthcare sector endless. This can even go as far as preventing injury or aiding in post-performance recovery.
Indeed, e-textiles are considered promoters of a higher quality of life and progress also in biomedicine, and those in the healthcare industry. As we have seen, the potential of smart fabrics is huge. They can be programmed to monitor things like biometrics (measurements of physical attributes or behaviors like heart rate), which could help athletes, dieters, and even physical therapists and other physicians observe patients’ vital signs.
8 - Training and Coaching
Sensors integrated in smart clothing can trace nearly anything. Posture, body and arm movement, biometrics, and other features live as it happens. It means coaches and trainers can also benefit from measuring data and improving an athlete’s technique. During a game, they can clearly see a player’s fatigue, for example, and then choose to substitute players that are not performing to the max — as far as their data is concerned.
Rugby players carry a sort of small box linked to a monitor that downloads information, which can be viewed during and after matches by coaches and sports scientists. Besides optimizing skills and fitness levels, avoiding injuries is also a possibility. Sensors can monitor concussions in high contact sports so that either better headgear can be developed or coaches can substitute a player when receiving a severe hit.
9 - Military and Army Workouts
Technology within military training is mainly wearables that track a soldier's vitals — heart rate, blood pressure, emotional status, etc. These sensors will not only help plan the best timelines but will help keep the soldiers in the best physical and mental health.
Other examples of recent developments include combat simulations, where a soldier is wearing a shock belt. So that each time they are shot, the belt will release a certain amount of electricity directly to the user's skin.
10 - Soccer Wear
Soccer gear made with technical fabrics helps players peak. Football jerseys’ leading material is polyester, due to its molecular structure, which is tightly bonded to prevent easily ripping material. The more form-fitting shirts minimize the opportunity for an opponent to grab a player, speeding up the pace of the game strategically while allowing players to play at their best.
Also, when a player gets hot, the shirt can help keep them cool and dry. By placing numerous technical fibers in key locations (e.g., armpits and chest) the fibers, which are also water-resistant, move more water off the skin to quickly evaporate.
Technology in fashion making leads us to the future of the industry, especially in the technical sportswear field. Technical textiles are a cross-disciplinary area and are growing in popularity. Basically, for every sport in which body movement is of importance, there are loads of opportunities.