Stretch your pants, Stretch your mind: What makes activewear stretchy?

Stretch your pants, Stretch your mind: What makes activewear stretchy?

Where there is activewear, there is stretch. It’s hard to think otherwise. Stretch provides support in compression products, overall comfort, freedom of movement and is necessary to achieve the skin-tight fit of certain sports clothes (leggings, bras, swimwear, to name a few).

While there is a range of main fibres and materials in the activewear world, like polyester, nylon, cotton, merino, the elastic feature is commonly achieved with the addition of elastane to the main fibre. 

Elastane is a petroleum-based, man-made fibre with its most important characteristic being its stretchiness. It’s often referred to as spandex or lycra. The latter is a brand name for specific spandex materials. 

Elastane comes with a sizeable environmental impact:

  1. It’s made from crude oil, a limited non-renewable resource, that is being extracted as if it was limitless. It is a type of plastic and is usually blended with other fibers. (1)
  2. The production process of elastane fibres is chemical-heavy. Wearing these fibres for long time can cause skin allergies and other harmful side effects. (2)
  3. Elastane is commonly dyed with synthetic dyes, one of the most polluting elements in the textile industry, harmful to aquatic life, the environment, and humans alike. (3)
  4. Elastane sheds non-biodegradable microplastics that release harmful substances into the environment and often takes several centuries to fully decompose. (4)

Tripulse leggings are stretchy too. So what did we do differently? 

We refused to use the conventional elastane that usually gives activewear the stretchiness it often needs. We turned every stone to find a material that would have the same stretch-effect, but which is at the same time much better to our environment and health. And we found it.

We replaced conventional elastane with an innovative more eco-friendly version called Roica® V550.

Roica® V550 is the world’s first Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Material Health Gold Level Certified™ premium stretch yarn that combines performance and sustainability for the next generation of performance garments.

What makes Roica® V550 functional and a sustainable option?

  1. Roica® V550 is lighter and more stretchable than rubber, as its tensile strength is several times that of rubber, with excellent recovery and lifespan.(5)
  2. The material’s supply chain has a lower impact on human and environmental health, and there is no exposure from carcinogens, mutagens, or reproductive toxicants. (6)
  3. It doesn’t shed harmful microplastics and toxins into the environment when e.g. washing clothes made from Roica V550, keeping our waters clean and protecting aquatic life. (7)
  4. It has gained the “Gold Level Material Health Certificate” by the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute for a safe and biological end of life cycle. At its end-of-life, it smartly breaks down in soil without releasing any harmful substances. That means it doesn’t take centuries to decompose as is the case with elastane and other synthetic materials. It is also Hohenstein Environment Certified. (8)

In looking to create the most sustainable and high performing sportswear out there, Roica® V550 was the ideal solution in combination with Tencel, in order to create the Tripulse leggings and shorts as responsible as possible. 

But we don’t stop here and keep on innovating. While we are very happy to use a more eco-friendly version of elastane in our leggings, our aim is to reduce the required stretch even more, to keep track with the most sustainable stretch innovations and to enhance the natural stretchability of our fabrics.

Do you have a pair of sports leggings or shorts? Did you ever think about the stretchy aspect of your sports clothes? Share your thoughts or experiences on this topic in the comments below.

 

Sources:

(1) https://www.commonobjective.co/article/what-are-our-clothes-made-from; https://the-materials.info/elastane

(2) https://austinpublishinggroup.com/textile-engineering/fulltext/arte-v2-id1012.php

(3) 
https://remake.world/stories/news/there-are-hidden-chemicals-in-our-clothing/; 

(4) https://ecowarriorprincess.net/2018/05/textile-fibres-cause-microfibre-pollution-washed-studies-reveal/; https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13181-018-0661-9

(5) https://materialconnexion.com/material-insight-roica-v550/

(6) https://materialconnexion.com/material-insight-roica-v550/

(7) https://materialconnexion.com/material-insight-roica-v550/

(8) https://www.c2ccertified.org/products/mhcertificate/roica-v550; https://www.innovationintextiles.com/recognition-for-unique-roica-v550/#:~:text=Roica%20V550%20is%20a%20significant,environment%20at%20end%20of%20life.


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