Latest textiles boost warmth, shed moisture, soothe muscles

Textile suppliers had several innovative offerings up their sleeve at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, some of which continue the trend toward lighter and better-performing fabrics, others that result from fresh yarn blends and naturally derived materials.

Throughout the month of February, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 19-22. 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.

Textile suppliers had several innovative offerings up their sleeve at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, some of which continue the trend toward lighter and better-performing fabrics, others that result from fresh yarn blends and naturally derived materials.

Schoeller offered two new environmentally-friendly products. Water- and dirt-repellent Ecorepel is a fluorocarbon-free coating that can be applied to any woven or knit fabric. “It’s very well priced because we don’t have to buy the fluorocarbons,” pointed out Deborah Richert, Schoeller’s national sales manager. Corkshell is a thermal insulation made from the material left over from wine-cork production. The cork is ground, then combined with softshell fabric to add 30 percent more insulation than traditional softshells. The fabric is available in one and three-layer iterations. Cabernet not included.

Cocona touted a new insulation system, incorporating base layers, linings and insulated products using its proprietary combo of coconut carbon, volcanic minerals and other naturally-derived particles. “Adding these active particles to various materials is such a compelling story,” said Duncan Edwards, Cocona’s managing director for Asia. The company also introducing a new mesh or taffeta apparel lining at Winter Market. But the launch getting the most attention is Cocona’s exclusive partnership with The North Face on FlashDry technology, which is being used in some 100 pieces being developed for fall 2012, including waterproof/breathable laminates and knits. The proprietary blend of materials was 18 months in development, said Edwards, and offers remarkably fast wicking and drying times. He noted that some elements of FlashDry technology may be available down the line to other manufacturers on a case-by-case basis.

At Polartec, waterproof/breathable Neoshell was still the big story, with twice as many companies using it for fall ’12, as well as a new, more efficient version of Power Shield that’s 25 percent lighter and 25 percent warmer. “People are recognizing what a game-changing product Neoshell is,” said Allon Cohne, North American marketing manager. “What I’m most excited about is hybrid garments that use our different performance fabrics,” he added, pointing to garments like Outdoor Research’s LodestarJacket and the Polar Hooded Jacket from The North Face. With so many iterations of Power Shield now available, designers can “look at one category in our line and construct a garment,” he said.

Lenzing launched a version of its Tencel seamless fabric blended with superfine merino wool, a potential option for those who may be wool sensitive when wearing close-fitting base layers. “Tencel is cool in the summer and warm in the winter, so it complements wool perfectly,” said Andreas Guertler, the company’s product planning manager for apparel.

According to Bob Dempsey, product development engineer for yarn at PrimaLoft, the company changed suppliers about six months ago for its yarn, which incorporates the same fibers it uses in synthetic insulation. The result was significantly improved yarn that is less clumpy, more even and blends better. “Our lead times have come way down, and quality has gone way up,” said Dempsey. PrimaLoft’s yarn has been used in socks, in pure versions and blended with merino, but now, with an unprecedentedly fine version available, it can be used in base layers, with Adidasthe first to jump on board.

Pertex paired the coating from its Endurance fabric with its super-lightweight Quantum GL cloth. “It gives increased water resistance, making a really good jacket even better,” said Steve Laycock, brand director at Pertex. Rab has been an early adopter, and the combo is open to all manufacturers.

“One of the continuing trend stories is light but strong,” said Cindy McNaull, global brand and marketing director at Cordura. The company continues its rollout of three fabrics launched at 2011 Summer Market: an abrasion-resistant denim, the parachute-inspired Ultralite — suitable for down jackets because of its super-tight weave — and its cotton-like Naturalle fabric, now available in a new, muted color range. At Winter Market, the company also introduced a stretch version of its cotton-canvas Duck fabric.

And, with an eye toward the future, at Celliant, we discovered a combination of space-age technology and proven principles. “We’re trying to create an awareness that the body is an energy source and how it can be used,” said CEO Seth Casden. The company is already known for its yarn, extruded from a mix of 13 ground minerals and PET. They claim the fabric harnesses the energy we expend through exercise and reflects it back to the body to increase circulation and oxygen saturation in muscles and tissues.

Next up for Celliant, in what Casden terms the “responsive textiles” category, is bio-photonic yarn, which will control the color of light it reflects for more targeted benefits. For example, red light is shown to increase blood flow and speed muscle recovery. Celliant hopes to introduce the technology this summer.

–Cindy Hirschfeld