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What Is Performance Fabric? Why It's Important in Athleisure

Performance fabric is an evolution in clothing and fashion that mirrors the progress in form and function of those who wear it. It’s a relatively new category of fabric that is being used in groundbreaking ways when it comes to clothing. Athleisure may be the category of clothing that puts it to the best use.

A New Reason for Clothing

Traditionally, the reason for wearing clothing can be broken down into four different purposes. 
  1. Protection: Protection from environmental factors such as wind, rain, cold, and sun. 
  2. Adornment: Added ornamentation and decoration. More or less what we know today as fashion.
  3. Identification: Clothing is used as a sign to establish who someone is or what they do. We still see this today. Think police officer, construction worker, basketball player, etc. 
  4. Status: Clothing could also be used as a status symbol revealing one's position or rank in comparison to another. 
  5. Performance: Clothing that helps you achieve optimum performance for specific tasks and maximize your overall potential.
Over time, technological developments have allowed new fabrics to go above and beyond what was once conceivable. We can now get more function out of fabric than ever before. Paired with meticulous design, it has created a whole new category of clothing that we know as athleisure. 
Athleisure has taken the world by storm. The athleisure market is expected to continue its growth, and for good reason; it makes use of technological developments in textiles as well as any other industry. It is cutting edge and designed for the modern day individual. Altogether, it formulates a new reason to wear clothing.

Performance in Any Arena

Performance fabric is most commonly associated with athletic wear, but that’s no longer the only context in which it can help you operate at your best. Today, the performance fabrics utilized in athleisure clothing have benefits that pay dividends outside the gym just as well. 
In the 1980s a fitness craze swept across the United States. Prior to this time, gyms mostly consisted of elite athletes and bodybuilders; however, the fitness craze made it popular for the common individual looking to improve their health and wellness. With this shift, a new wave of spandex and nylon fitness clothing rolled out and became the standard for workout clothing. It didn’t see much use outside the gym.
Today, performance fabrics will definitely enhance your workout and athletic performance, but the benefits are not limited to the gym. Athleisure is designed to be worn inside and outside the workout arena, and the performance fabrics they’re made from will keep you comfortable and stylish wherever you wear them. 

Part of an Active Lifestyle

What differentiates the workout attire made from performance fabrics today versus those in the 80s is their efficiency, style, and reception. These three factors play out in athleisure clothing in such a way that has made it the definitive clothing style for a modern, active, on-the-go lifestyle. 
The development in performance fabrics allows them to offer features today that were previously unavailable, such as moisture-wicking and antimicrobial (odor-free) properties. This means that you can wear these clothes all day long, including after your workout, without being overwhelmingly sweaty or smelly.
Coupled with the style appeal of athleisure clothing, and the performance materials they’re made from, clothing that helps you perform in the gym can now provide additional benefits anywhere. 
Society today values health and fitness. For many people, athleisure clothing is a way of complimenting their healthy and fit lifestyle whether it’s a workout day or a rest day. Culture today is now accustomed to seeing athletic wear in casual settings, and some athleisure clothing is now finding its way into the workplace as well: if you’re not yet familiar, look out for workleisure
The appeal of performance fabric in today’s society is that it not only helps you perform physically, but it supplements your self-improvement in a comfortable, fashionable, and authentic way. For many, performance materials have become the uniform of a focussed and motivated individual who is prepared and heading towards success. 

Performance Fabric Examples

Here are common examples of the top performance fabrics. Keep in mind, some fabrics go by more than one name, often having to do with specific iterations of the same fabric that distinguishes it from one patent and another. 

Spandex

Also known as Lycra or elastane, Spandex is a lightweight, strong, and stretchy material. Its arrival in 1959 had a large and lasting impact on several aspects of the apparel industry. It is commonly used in athleisure clothing. It helps add to the flexibility, fit, and range of motion that athleisure clothing is known for. 
It’s most commonly found as part of a blend with other fabrics such as cotton or nylon. 

Tencel®


It is popular in athletic clothing because it is more breathable and less susceptible to odorous bacteria than many of its synthetic counterparts, and it is 50% more absorbent than cotton. An added benefit is that it is better for the environment than similar alternatives.

Nylon

Another entirely synthetic known for its stretch and moisture-wicking attributes is nylon. Nylon was originally created as an effort to find alternative materials to silk and hemp for manufacturing parachutes for World War II. It was originally intended to be ultra-strong and resistant to runs and tears, which didn’t end up being the case. 
However, the properties that make nylon the performance fabric we use today were discovered to be supplemented well as when blended with other fibers. Nylon can also be made into a highly durable and versatile plastic, used from products like hair combs to gun parts. 

Polyester

Polyester is another performance fabric used in athleisure clothing. The properties its best known for are:
  • Durability
  • Resistance to shrinkage, wrinkles, abrasions, and many chemicals
  • Quick-drying
  • Highly stain resistant
  • Strong yet lightweight
  • Shape retention

Performance Fabric Blends

The fabrics listed above are often used in conjunction with one another, or standard fabrics such as cotton, to create fabric blends. Performance fabric blends are commonly found in athleisure clothing. A blend of performance fabrics allows the final product to benefit from the different characteristics of each fabric that makes the blend. 
For example, this All Day Every Day Pant is made from a precise balance of 88% Nylon and 12% Spandex.
Another great example of a performance fabric blend is this Go-To Long Sleeve, which features a 69% Pima Cotton, 23% TENCEL®, and 8% Spandex blend. 

Properties of Performance Fabrics in Athleisure

Performance fabrics have properties that make them ideal for certain uses. In other words, a piece of clothing made out of performance fabrics is able to do things that other clothing can not. Athleisure clothing utilizes the best properties of performance fabrics along with meticulous design in order to create the most comfortable, well-fitting, and performance-ready clothing on the market. 

Stretchy

Stretchy clothing is a staple in athleisure clothing. The most obvious reason is that it allows the wearer to move freely and without constraint. Stretchy clothing is ideal for physical activity because it moves with you and doesn’t limit your range of motion. 
Yoga pants, for example, are tight-fitting, but they allow you to stretch as far as your body will let you. Do the same stretches in skinny jeans and they’d either rip or prevent you from getting the most out of your stretch. 
Another reason stretch is a valuable property in athleisure clothing is that it allows for flattering, form-fitting clothing. A form-fitting garment that isn’t created from flexible performance fabric is not ideal for physical activity. Athleisure utilizes the best of stretchy performance fabrics with clothing designs that are made for movement but will also look stylish and fit well at the same time. 

Durable

Clothing made from performance fabrics generally lasts longer than clothing made from traditional fabrics, especially when put through rigorous physical activity. Athleisure clothing holds up over time, even your favorite pieces that you wear all the time. Some performance fabrics are made specifically for this purpose with abrasion-resistant, or even fire-retardant properties.
However, even the stretchy materials that athleisure clothing uses play into the durability and longevity of a garment. Stretchy clothes are malleable and have less tension when pushed to their limits, which is not only beneficial for comfort and ease of movement, but for durability as well. 

Breathable

Breathable clothing allows your body temperature to regulate more naturally. It’s essential in athleisure clothing because it allows you to push yourself without your clothes feeling restrictive and stuffy. When your body temperature rises from exercise, you want clothing that allows that heat to escape, not trap it in. 
Breathable athleisure clothing is beneficial in settings aside from workouts as well. It feels light on your body and is great for keeping you cool but also for layering in the cold. A breathable performance polo, for example, works well under a jacket because it keeps you warm without feeling too bundled up and stuffy. 

Moisture-Wicking

Moisture-wicking properties in athleisure clothing mean that you can work hard and perspire without looking like you crawled out of a lake afterward. Gone are the days when the sign of a good workout was a soaking wet sweatsuit—no thanks. 
Today, people with busy lifestyles need to be able to hit the gym on their way home from work, and then pick up food or meet with a friend right after. The moisture-wicking factor found in athleisure clothing will help keep you dry so you don’t have to change or go around with armpit stains. 
Of course, staying dry is nice regardless of whether you’re getting a workout in or not. If you put in long and hard hours in the office, try wearing a breathable and moisture-wicking shirt instead of a typical work shirt. You’ll be comfortable and feel fresh all day long. 

Antimicrobial

Whoever came up with one this is a genius. Antimicrobial properties found in certain performance fabrics help eliminate the odor that comes with perspiration. Essentially, antimicrobial fabrics are fabrics treated with antimicrobial agents, either at the surface or infused into the fibers. These agents attack microorganism growth that happens to fabrics because of their large surface area and ability to retain moisture. 
It’s another factor that makes athleisure clothing perfect for people who are on the go<. Clothing with anti-microbial properties will help you look and smell fresh throughout the day. It also contributes to the durability of the garment. 

Water Resistant

Water-resistant materials are found in raincoats and other outdoor gear. This Brave The Elements Shell, created from 100% polyester, is a lightweight jacket that can be stored easily in your daypack and will keep you dry, regardless of the weather forecast. 

Why Performance Fabric Is a Big Deal in 2022

As performance fabric continues to evolve and rise in popularity, it has made its way into the closets of many. If you have yet to benefit from what performance fabrics have to offer, now is time to try it out. Athleisure clothing fuses the latest developments of performance fabrics with carefully designed clothing that will help you look, feel, and perform your best in 2022. 

Ready for Anything

Performance fabric ensures that you’re ready for anything. Wherever you can use an edge, athleisure clothing utilizes the best of performance fabrics to ensure that there’s nothing holding you back from your best performance. 
In today’s culture, wearing comfortable athletic-inspired clothing in settings outside of the gym has become completely normalized. Athleisure is a perfect example of this and has taken it to the next level by rolling out designs that are just as well suited for the gym as they are for the office or the weekend. 
If there’s clothing out there that is not only designed to help you perform at your best but is also versatile and fashionable, you’ve got to ask yourself: why wouldn’t you wear it?

Supports an Active Lifestyle

The most popular new year's resolutions are geared toward health and fitness goals. Whether you’ve set a specific resolution or not, most people would agree that improving personal health and fitness is something they’d like to see happen this year. 
Athleisure clothing supports you in all areas of personal improvement. Not only does it help you perform during your workouts, but it’s a supplement to a healthy and active lifestyle that you can wear every day, rest days included. Treat yourself to some new athleisure clothing to kick off the year and remind you that you’ll be getting the most out of 2022. 

On Trend

Performance fabrics are on-trend in fitness and in fashion. Wearing them in and out of the gym is comfortable, smart, practical—and cool. Some of the world’s richest and most powerful people choose athleisure as their go-to clothing for their day-to-day agendas. It’s the clothing style that best represents the modern day lifestyle and individual. 

Performance Fabrics Help You Get It Done

Performance fabrics have come a long way since the rudimentary neon interpretations that helped usher fitness fashion into what we know it as today. Athleisure harnesses the benefits of performance fabric so that you can wear clothing that helps you perform day in and day out.
It helps you move, allows your body to breathe, and keeps you dry. Not only that, but the tasteful execution that athleisure clothing makes of performance fabrics means that they can also be worn for a stylish and minimal appearance. It’s cutting edge, but casual. It’s next-level performance but understated. 
Performance fabrics aren’t limited to the world's top athletes. You don’t have to be a firefighter or astronaut to wear clothing designed with the best of textile technology; Athleisure clothing brings performance fabrics to your everyday activities. To feel and perform your best, wear athleisure clothing with the latest performance fabric.
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