Most of us are so familiar with smart materials that it’s easy to forget just how brilliant they’ve been for innovation in sportswear. Smart materials are fabrics that alter their properties according to changes in the environment. You know those shirts that are marked “I never wrinkle”? Well, that’s an example of smart material in action.
What does this mean for sportswear?
Sportswear has evolved massively in the last few years, not only aesthetically but in performance too. Smart materials have provided us with clothes that help regulate body temperature and control muscle vibration, both of which have an impact on performance. There are also fabrics that combat sweat and smell using anti-bacterial properties (perhaps all socks should be made of material like this!).
Where can I find smart garments?
Most major sports manufacturers routinely use smart materials in their clothes. One example is the Nike DRY-FIT range. The name is pretty self explanatory, but what the fabric actually does is move sweat away from the skin and into the material where it dries much more rapidly than it would otherwise. This keeps the athlete wearing it as dry as possible while training (and it dries really quickly after having been in the wash – win-win situation folks!).
Similarly, the Adidas “Climachill” range is made of a micro fibre that is light and acts like mesh. It also contains small aluminium circles located on the back, neck and forearms, which are the warmest areas of the body. This helps to cool the skin upon contact.
The days of heavy, drenched cotton chafing against your skin on a long run are most definitely over. Smart materials are constantly improving and instead of clothing factories, fabric is now being created in science labs. For an amazing video about fabric based on human cell biology being developed in Japan, check out this link.
Over at Racefully, we are really excited about these innovations. What are your favourite smart brands? Leave us a comment!