Athletes Build Marginal Gains With The Latest Fabric Tech

March 2022

With the soon approaching XIII Paralympic Winter Games and recently concluded Winter Olympic Games Beijing, we explore the fabric technologies that can maximise performance

In a field where winning or losing is a matter of micro seconds, materials that help athletes conserve energy, recover more quickly and monitor performance make all the difference. Many coaches believe in the pursuit of ‘marginal gains.’ This is the philosophy of searching for a tiny margin of improvement in everything an athlete does pre competition. From nutrition to sleep, equipment to kit, an improvement of 1 percent on each component leads to significant increases in performance when combined. State-of-the-art fabric and kit can play an integral role here, whether at elite or amateur level.

Aero by Marc, image source

The needs of athletes has pushed suppliers to innovate in this category. Alex Ingildsen, CCO at LTP Group states

“Athletic gains are often made in the margins. At LTP we work with the most innovative suppliers from across the globe to develop next-generation activewear. Our team of in-house specialists are driven by the pursuit of excellence”

Here, Laura Didžiokienė, fabric sourcing and innovation specialist at LTP shares the need-to-know fabrics which are driving the development in this category as featured in the companies 360° Innovation book.

The Power of Tiny Gains, image source

Fabrics to Enhance Performance Gain Momentum

Over recent years brands and suppliers have conducted a significant amount of research into aerodynamics with the attempt to encourage air to flow more effectively over the body. The results show the clothes an athlete wears can have a huge impact on how fast they move through the air.

Cutting-edge suppliers are working hard to create fabrics which enhance performance. The Explosive Technology by Brugnoli collection has achieve the maximum rating on Lycra’s new proprietary Power, Comfort and Energy indexes (PCE). The Index has 3 ratings. Firstly the Power index (Pi) which measures the degree of compression power delivered by the fabric. Secondly the comfort index (Ci) which measures the fabrics ability to move without distracting the wear and thirdly Energy index (Ei) which rates the energy lost whilst moving the garment. These impressive results are coupled with the fabrics other benefits including transparency-free [even during fabric elongation], flawless fit without bagging, UV 50+ protection, pilling resistance and no-abrasion, clean-cut and non-curling.

Elastic Trim Supplier Marc have also innovated in this space. The supplier have developed TEGEA elastic fabric for socks with Aero & Comfort grip technology, a state-of-the-art solution that combines the concept of compression and aerodynamics in one seamless sustainable product. The silicone penetrates the fabric more deeply as it is injected directly into the fabric for maximum hold and comfort thanks to the absence of seams.

Inside the fourth edition of the LTP Group’s 360° Innovation Book, image source

Deliver Next-level Wicking

Moisture-wicking technology using capillary action to transport sweat away from the skin is vital for activewear. Suppliers are pushing for next-level gains in this space. Textile technology pioneer, Drirelease® have launched patented Dricomfort® with GEO active particles to accelerate the drying of filament polyester fabrics with thermal conductivity 3000% greater than that of polyester polymer. GEO uses the body’s energy. The unique and adaptable technology provides thermoregulation through efficient heat management and moisture transfer in the fabric. Designed to stabilise body temperature (not too cold, not to hot), ultimately enhancing comfort and performance.

Inside the fourth edition of the LTP Group’s 360° Innovation Book, image source

Fabrics are also be finished with Schoeller’s Coldblack to reduce heat absorption and provide protection from the sun’s rays to maintain a consistent body temperature. The fabric reflects up to 80 percent of heat radiation and therefore will be noticeably cooler. This results in less perspiration and can improved performance capacity.

Smart Textiles Provide Real Time Feedback

In the right hands, data is one of the most powerful tools for athletes and coaches to track, evaluate and predict performance. Offering insights which will help fine tune training and guide race strategy. Seamlessly integrated electronics and sensors can help monitor heart rate, pressure, posture, skin temperature, breathing and more.

Accelerate Muscle Recovery with Energy Return Fabrics

The importance of rest and recovery is paramount for athletes. James Maas PhD, a leading international authority on sleep and performance states

"No matter how good your nutrition is, no matter how good your exercise routine is, if your sleep isn’t any good, the other two don’t matter."

The importance of rest and recovery for optimum mental and physical performance is an imperative. Innovative fabric suppliers are changing the landscape with compression textiles that aid circulation and muscle recovery. Schoeller’s energear™ finish goes a step further by harnessing the energy radiated by the body and reflecting this back in the form of far infrared rays (FIR). The technology is said to promote blood circulation and increase oxygen levels which can improve regeneration, balance, concentration, and wellbeing. According to Schoeller, the additional energy can lead to performance enhancement and the avoidance of premature fatigue. Turkish supplier, Zeynar  is experimenting with this treatment on natural compositions, such as organic cotton, and other common fashion fabrics taking performance technologies beyond the gym.

Inside the fourth edition of the LTP Group’s 360° Innovation Book, image source

Cut-proof Fabrics Provide Vital Protection

Athletes from short track and alpine ski are being kitted out in cut-proof fabric to protect them from injuries via blades, falls and scrapes. State-of-the-art supplier, Fuchshuber Techno-Tex are utilising Dyneema® fibres to offer enhanced safety in ultra-lightweight solutions, perfect for those competing at Olympic level. For more details read our recent article “The World’s Strongest Fibres Are Getting Lighter”.

Inside the fourth edition of the LTP Group’s 360° Innovation Book, image source

How To Get Your Copy of The 360° Innovation Book

360° Innovation book

Product Design & Development, Creation and Innovation

Seasonal Trend Analysis for the Sport & Outdoor Industry

3D Product Creation

The Sport & Outdoor Apparel Network

Global Innovation from Europe & Asia

For more information please feel free to contact Alex at the LTP Group [].

About LTP

LTP is a Danish owned garment manufacturer for +60 premium brands within active sportswear, outdoor, athleisure and sustainable fashion. LTP was established in 1991, and is probably the biggest Sport & Outdoor garment manufacturer in Europe with bluesign & GOTS setups in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Vietnam.

LTP consists of two divisions; LTP Garment and LTP Contract Furniture producing in ten fully-owned factories.