If the words “performance apparel” conjure up images of stiff, scratchy polyester, think again. Like most things, technologic advances changed the game for this massive, highly specialized market—which is forecast to reach $4.29 billion this year, according to the Textile Exchange.
“Performance apparel today is not the polyester and blends we remember from the late ’70s and early ’80s,” says Bev Fields, vice president of Columbus, Ohio-based supplier Eversole Run (UPIC: EVERSOLE). “New technology has redefined the fabric industry.”
Today’s performance apparel is soft, durable and specially formulated for users’ specific pain points, such as moisture wicking, odor control, sun protection and even snag prevention. “Performance can mean different things to different people, but it’s often synonymous with innovation and leading edge design,” says Wendy Fraser, communications manager for Richmond Hill, Ontario-based supplier Ash City (UPIC: ash0001).
The only downside to performance wear is the research and effort it takes to choose the right blends—which are typically given proprietary names with intentional misspellings. Ash City deploys cool.logik™ fabric technology to create its “komfort” clothing, and Eversole Run’s EVR-Dri Plus fabric wicks away moisture.
Fraser says performance apparel is a good product pick when companies are looking for modern, stylish and comfortable gear to use as staff uniforms or client gifts. The key to selling this apparel style, she says, is to understand the circumstances in which the garments will be worn—so ask about weather and work conditions. And remember that performance wear has applications other than athletics. Auto dealerships, conventions, company programs, banks, golf outings and tradeshow personnel can all appreciate the comfort and easy-care features of performance apparel.
Bone up on performance apparel vocabulary
n. a fiber or filament with a linear density approximately below 0.9 denier. Some commercial fibers or filaments as coarse as 1.2 deniers are classified as microfibers.
n. A fleece-back jersey fabric.
n. The ability of a fabric to withstand permanent discoloration by the action of liquids. This property depends partly upon the chemical nature of the fiber but may be improved by proprietary treatments.
n. The ability of a fabric to transfer liquids, usually perspiration, along its fibers and away from the wearer’s skin.
n. The ability of a fabric or membrane to block the passage of external air through it. In cold climates, windproof garments help keep the wearer warm.