In Pursuit of Movement & The Way We Move Now
The pandemic ushered in new ways to stay fit and new ways to approach material functionality with an emphasis on comfort, versatility and eco attributes.
More than 1 million hula hoops sold last year and a new category of jump rope influencers took Instagram by storm. Walks around the neighborhood replaced crowded boutique fitness classes and bike racks were back ordered for six months. As the pandemic upended our daily routines, changing our approach to exercise, “movement goals” became the pathway to a healthy lifestyle.
“Every movement that you do throughout the day counts; the most important thing is movement,” stated Harry Pino, PhD, a senior exercise physiologist at NYU Langone and the manager of exercise physiology at the Princeton Longevity Center, during a Well & Good podcast. He was joined by Evelyn Escobar, founder and CEO of Hike Clerb, who also weighed in on the movement goals discussion. “When I seek movement, when I want to work my body, I’m looking at things that feel natural to me,” she said. “I’m not going into a cardio class…I’m going on a hike, going on a walk, riding my bike around my neighborhood. These little things that you don’t think [of as] movements, but actually are — and are also providing you that physical outlet — are the things that I seek.”
“When I seek movement, when I want to work my body, I’m looking at things that feel natural to me, I’m not going into a cardio class…I’m going on a hike, going on a walk, riding my bike around my neighborhood.”
– Evelyn Escobar, Founder and CEO, Hike Clerb
Movement goals ultimately depend on the audience. “If you take an avid tennis player, movement goals don’t do anything for them. But if you take the vast majority of people, getting up from your desk and going for a walk at lunchtime, that is a great movement goal for them,” explained Pearl Izumi’s, advanced product development team leader Rob Pickels, who adds that to improve physical fitness, you have to do something above and beyond. “Going from not doing anything to a walk everyday to a jog, to running a 5K leads to fitness, and we do see this happening.”
Textiles play an important role in this Covid-influenced exercise trend, with comfort a key factor. Pickels believes it is the responsibility of the apparel designer to use textiles to increase the comfort because that lowers the barrier of entry for those who otherwise would not want to commit to exercise. Wearing soft, comfortable materials next to skin during workouts pays off physically and emotionally to provide a feel-good fitness experience.
“Going from not doing anything to a walk everyday to a jog, to running a 5K leads to fitness, and we do see this happening.”
– Rob Pickels, Advanced product development, Pearl Izumi
Comfort is driving today’s “casual performance” trend. With the boundaries between outdoor, home and workwear becoming more and more blurred, comfort, wellbeing and function will be in higher demand for our hybrid lives, according to a Performance Days report, that predicts performance wear adapting for casual everyday attire, along with increased commitment to sustainable materials.
Cindy McNaull, business development director for Cordura Advanced Fabrics, stated, “Whether it’s soft comfort in their workwear or functional durability in streetwear, consumers are integrating functionality and comfort in all aspects of their wardrobes. Outdoor has become everyday wear. And for Gen Z consumers especially, performance and sustainability is an expectation and a lifestyle.”
New Active Endeavors
Textile development is keeping pace with post Covid trends by broadening the scope of performance in new ways. For example, brrr has laddered up its offering with brrr Pro, a new polyester product that elevates the company’s Triple Chill Effect for athletic and athleisure markets and bolsters brrr’s established Triple Chill Effect nylon product line.
In development for three years, brrr Pro has heightened cooling fibers embedded with micro-cooling minerals. “When we started development on the Pro technology three years ago, we had no idea of the pandemic. But the stars aligned for us and we are able to launch a tech that speaks directly to the athletic/athleisure space, a category that is king coming out of Covid with comfort and function seen as fashionable,” said Mary-Cathryn Kolb, founder and CEO.
For brrr the challenge was how to take advantage of polyester’s functionality, and popularity, in athletic wear, while providing the cool touch factor of nylon. According to Kolb, the company’s Triple Chill Effect technology serves as a great secret sauce, but the team needed to figure out how to put more of the sauce in the same amount of space.
“With polyester we have to put so much of our mineral recipe to overcome the natural warmth and incremental performance that gives cooling performance,” said Kolb. “In order for us to put more technology into polyester we had to figure out how to make our current tech micro-cooling.” With the innovation of micro-cooling minerals, 30 times more tech was achieved in the same amount of polymer space. “We are now able to have a polyester yarn that performs like a nylon with its cooling properties,” Kolb added.
Brrr Pro polyester scored 0.194 in Qmax testing, which measures the cool-to-the-touch sensation of fabrics. According to the company, that Qmax score was 81 percent better than another brand of cooling fabric and 53 percent better than the score for comparable performance polyester.
“With premium brands there’s got to be a story about why to buy this brand for this much more. Technology is the only thing that is rooting that story, and hopefully makes consumers pull out their wallet and purchase.”
– Mary-Cathryn Kolb, Founder and CEO, brrr
A Fall ‘21 brrr Pro program is in the market, with a bigger launch slated for Spring ‘22.
Kolb believes that the pandemic has made consumers rethink their closet and their wallet. “Consumers acquired an appetite to shop different tiers of retail during the pandemic,” said Kolb, offering as an example high-end shoppers who found satisfaction buying product staples at big box stores, like Target, that remained open during Covid. To stand out in the current retail environment, premium brands seek to differentiate. “WIth premium brands there’s got to be a story about why to buy this brand for this much more. Technology is the only thing that is rooting that story, and hopefully makes consumers pull out their wallet and purchase.”
“The pieces will work whether you want to get in 15 minutes of yoga during the day or look professional on a Zoom call.”
– Kirsten Harris, Founder, EarthFirst Consulting
Kirsten Harris identifies another consumer shift: “I believe there is a great desire to evolve exercise/lifestyle goals in a holistic manner, with exercise not being an activity separated from our overall daily lifestyle but deeply integrated within it,” stated Harris, who has recently launched EarthFirst Consultants and is preparing to launch a parallel brand called Eavolu, with its tagline is “The Evolution of You.”
Harris, whose background includes product development and marketing at Nike, Nordstrom, Amazon and most recently textile supplier NILIT, said the intention of Eavolu is “to allow busy professionals to move seamlessly through their day, with activities such as work, family life, exercise, socializing all being woven together as a whole, in an eco-conscious fashion.”
The Eavolu brand is designed to work seamlessly with Avocado brand activewear. Harris’ close relationship with Avocado led to the collaboration that will provide an online platform to launch Eavolu. A capsule collection of three different styles of a women’s one-piece garment feature long-lasting materials that are functional, eco-conscious and suited to today’s hybrid lifestyle. “The pieces will work whether you want to get in 15 minutes of yoga during the day or look professional on a Zoom call,” said Harris. “Wardrobes in general are more casual and laid back. We want to be comfortable all day but still look professional.”
As consumers start venturing out of the house and back into society replacing their old sweats with new streetwear, the latest denim developments look to be a good fit. Cordura marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of its durable denim technology with the introduction of denim hemp blends, and Naveena Denim Mills’ new collection of sustainable denim, features Polygiene STAYS FRESH technology that fuses the comfort of denim with many performance benefits.
The first durable Cordura Denim hemp blends to showcase come from Artistic Milliners. Made with French sourced hemp, the blue stretch denim qualities, in 11 and 12-ounce weights, have a soft, comfort hand feel and the natural slub characteristic of hemp.
Hemp aligns with Cordura attributes including high tenacity, strength, and durability. Hemp is also gaining traction in the outdoor market, with Patagonia, The North Face and many other outdoor brands utilizing the natural fiber. “Streetwear and lifestyle brands are taking cues from outdoor,” said McNaull, who added that now more than ever lines are blurring between market segments. “We’ve got this wonderful melding where outdoor meets workwear meets streetwear and trendy ready-to- wear. Cordura fabrics feature in all these categories, with great brand partners.”
“Streetwear and lifestyle brands are taking cues from outdoor.”
– Cindy McNaull, Business development director, Cordura Advanced Fabrics
Cordura is also working with hemp in knit construction. A durable jersey nylon/hemp blend knit from Haining Jintai mill China won an ISPO award in January. The natural stretch knit offers durable comfort performance suitable for hot or humid climates.
Naveena Denim Mills and Polygiene presented their new partnership last month during the Kingpins24 Amsterdam trade show, with executives from both firms optimistic about growth potential in denim. Polygiene became known in the sport and outdoor market, attracting attention for its eco-conscious odor capture performance treatment ideal for base layer and other active outdoor products. But with only about 10 percent of wardrobes devoted to sport, there is “huge opportunity for sustainability performance in everyday clothing,” said Niklas Brosnan, Polygiene’s global marketing coordinator. “On average Americans have seven pairs of jeans. We can make a real environmental impact with lifestyle collections.”
“On average Americans have seven pairs of jeans. We can make a real environmental impact with lifestyle collections.”
– Niklas Brosnan, Global marketing coordinator, Polygiene
Berke Aydemir, head R&D & technical sales at Navenna, added, “We desire to reach the next generation of early adopters and influencers to create awareness about garment care and the role consumers play in having a more sustainable world.”
Applied in the finishing stages of textile production, the Polygiene biostatic treatment, based on a silver salt solution, stops odor at the source and works for the lifetime of the garment.
About 50 percent of negative environmental impact from jeans is due to consumer laundering. According to the companies, consumers can do more to reduce the environmental impact of apparel simply by washing clothes less frequently. Polygience calculates, for example, that skipping every 10th wash, results in saving 47 million tons of CO2 and 4.5 billion cubic meters of freshwater globally.
Brosnan stated, “We are excited to continue this development with Naveena Denim Mills and be part of this movement to keep clothes out of landfills and change consumables to durables.”