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Fabrics of the future

Look ahead to 2017 with the latest fabrics and textiles from ingredient brands.

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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2015 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 5 – 8. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Swatches are the first steps toward next season’s technical apparel. Look closer at those booths full of fabric swatches on the show floor and you can see the future of performance apparel. After all, this is where brands begin building their 2017 product lines.

Fabric producers are working to meet market demands for fabrics that fight odor, use less chemicals, and reduce layers or weight. Here’s a rundown of the latest in fabric innovations.

>> Cordura Fabric teamed with Struktur Studio to design an outfit that showcases its softer fabrics; and its jersey knit, dull nylon and canvas options.

Cordura’s Naturalle umbrella includes a heathered woven jacket made from ripstop nylon and polyester. Another Naturalle fabric that stands out in the swatches is an air-textured cloth by the Chia Her mill, which looks and feels like satin. By appearance it seems destined for delicate undergarments, but it just may show up as a translucent, meshy layer in performance pieces. Its abrasion-resistant Combat Wool weaves some reflective threads into its patterns.

>> Primaloft shows how overseas brands are using yarns in a range of products, especially performance pieces, which challenge its reputation as an insulation brand. In Japan, Salomon’s 186 running jacket uses hydrophobic inner fibers to wick moisture toward its hydrophilic face. PrimaLoft is also utilizing partner company Mitsui Bussan’s fashion ties to get its performance fibers into lifestyle pieces with denim, an extra soft chambray and flannel.

>>3M’s continues its Thinsulate featherless insulation mimics down, including 600 fill power, yet isn’t susceptible to the same price fluctuations or sustainability issues. What catches the eye is the brand’s Visible line. Developed by 3M’s public safety branch, reflective threads in woven and knit lifestyle pieces convey a theme of “discrete visibility.” If pedestrian safety at night seems too distant from the outdoor audience, plan on seeing patterned lifestyle commuter or camping pieces turn into blazing 3D grids when hit with lights. Canada has already lined up for one million units this fall.

>> Schoeller Textile USA brings Coldblack fabrics reflect UVA and UVB rays to keep things cool. It has resisted imitators since 2009, and been featured almost exclusively in Under Armour apparel. Alert: The exclusivity agreement is ending soon.

Schoeller got hooked on Tasmanian wool after collaborating with Ortovox in Europe, and will offer four-way stretch merino to several brands. Schoeller figured out less-expensive methods to manufacture its well-regarded DrySkin and Dynamic fabrics, and hopes the price drop will win back brands that sought other options.

New swatches not yet introduced into apparel include printed mesh with camo patterns, an embossed pattern option for its stretchy equestrian line and bigger ripstop checks with reflective 3D grids.

>> Polartec, LLC offers a suite of midlayer options. One of the main features of Polartec Alpha is that it can be dyed, and recycled options are now available in five weights, from 50 to 120 grams. The Alpha layers accept prints, adding a fashion element when paired with a translucent face, mesh interior, or both, as seen in the latest Adidas Terrex Skyclimb Alpha jacket.

Aiming for the sweet spot between cotton and poly, Polartec Delta is a cooling system with moderate wicking that pushes sweat away from the body, and fights odors that polyester does not, with a mechanical treatment instead of chemicals. Brands looking to shed a layer may choose Alpha Direct, which resembles fleece on its out-facing side — not against the skin– and helps to draw and disperse heat from the body.

Further into the future, Polartec options will include dyed or natural recycled insulation layers. Patterns will be printed directly onto athleisure tights and sweats.

>> eVent Fabrics offers a permeable windproof membrane to let body heat and moisture escape without allowing air in. The DVstretch fabric is debuting in winter garments this year.

>> Polygiene is matching the demand from brands for odor-fighting options. It slays stench with an anti-microbial treatment, making it a popular pick for athleisure brands like Athleta and La Sportiva. Mountain brand Berghaus uses the tech, as does Patagonia, which likes to point out that less odor results in less washing and thus water savings.

>>Concept III Textiles partnered with Coolcore to release its chemical-free cooling fabric. The patented thermo-regulating technology wicks and cools, and since the tech is built into the yar, it won’t wash out of the garment. Brooks is using Coolcore in its DriLayer Steady line.

–M.T. Elliott