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Lycra and Sapphire Finishing Mills Team Up on Performance Fabrics

Jul 23, 2023Jul 23, 2023

The American wardrobe is undergoing a post-Covid evolution.

Remote working and all the hybrid variations employers continue to trial have inspired some consumers to invest in a new singular wardrobe based on versatile semi-casual pieces that provide comfort and flexibility.

It’s a shift that Ebru Ozaydin, The Lycra Company’s strategic marketing director for denim, ready-to-wear and wovens, has been closely watching since 2020.

The utility and performance once reserved for the outdoor, workwear and activewear categories have become commonplace in sportswear. Covid brought a boom in outdoor activities, Ozaydin said, adding that consumers want garments that offer a range of motion to do yoga or practice sports while being stylish at the same time.

“The outdoor boom is here to stay, and it continues to impact the ready-to-wear aesthetics,” she said. “The consumer sentiment is far from cliché outdoorsy looks of natural camouflage or adventure gear, but, instead a demand for versatile, multi-functional products that quickly gain commercial appeal.”

Meanwhile, jeanswear brands have widened their assortment to include workwear-meets-streetwear items like twill cargo pants, and yoga pant makers have introduced five-pocket jeans as well as trousers inspired by their technical fabrics.

The crossover appeal of performance fabrics led The Lycra Company and Sapphire Finishing Mills to combine their areas of expertise for a concept collection called the Crossroads Collection.

Launched in April at Kingpins Amsterdam, the collection represents a balance of style and function with garments made with non-denim woven fabrics by Sapphire engineered with Lycra’s technologies. The fabrics are designed to provide the wearer flexibility, moisture management, breathability, durability and comfort. Some are also made with recycled content.

Lightweight fabrics in the collection use Lycra Adaptiv technology, a polymer that adapts its holding force when the wearer is in motion to deliver the right fit, shape, and control. Other fabrics have Lycra dualFX for stretch and shape retention, Dual Comfort and Coolmax Ecomade for moisture management, Tough Max for durability and XFit for a level of flexibility that feels less compressive than weft stretch fabrics.

The performance fibers are blended with cotton, organic cotton, BCI Cotton, pima cotton, nylon and polyester in constructions like canvas, 4/1 satin, ripstop and dobby. Sapphire enhanced the fabrics with peached surfaces and water-repellant and antibacterial finishes.

Consumers are looking for additional features in their apparel. “The frugal economy as well as the focus on responsible design have led consumers to question their apparel purchasing habits,” Ozaydin said. “Extending the life of garments by using long-lasting materials can help to reduce carbon footprint. Such steps will help secure customer satisfaction and loyalty among those who are looking for durable fashion.”

While consumers may want garments that can withstand wear-and-tear to wear longer and to keep them out of the landfill, style still matters. Sapphire brings the fabrics to life in an assortment of men’s, women’s and genderless garments that speaks to both consumers’ desire for versatile staples and current trends.

Items like parachute pants nod to the Y2K phenomena sweeping Gen Z fashion. The utility trend is met with wide-leg carpenter pants and joggers, pants and a vest decked out with cargo pockets. Chinos and pants pull double-duty for work and play, while coordinating tops and shorts have a vacation look and feel.

Brands and retailers are responding positively to the collection, especially to the non-denim woven fabrics with Lycra Adatpiv for items like slim cargo trousers and fabrics with Lycra Dual Comfort for cooling and lightweight durability. Ozaydin said they’re opting for fabrics with Lycra Tough Max for garments that need high durability.

Additional reporting by Angela Velasquez.

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