Technological advances mean that textiles are being created to not only look good, but also be useful. Exciting new fabrics are being created that are eco-friendly as well as having real health benefits to the consumer. Smart fabrics can help athletes and sports consumers through features such as heart rate monitoring and fabrics that can reduce impact. But fabrics are also now being developed that can help people stay cool, moisturised and actively comfortable in hot weather or temperature extremes. As the UK continues to experience a prolonged heatwave, staying cool has become a real issue, and one that fabrics of the future have the potential to really help with.

Technology has created advances in fabric production, helping to address sustainability concerns. Eco-friendly, sustainable fabric can now be created from recycled plastics and even sour milk from food waste. Technical textiles now offer useful health extras for consumers such as UV sun protection embedded in the material or skin moisturisation through additions such as Vitamin E. One such fabric, Hysilk E has been developed to offer constant moisturisation through a smooth fabric. The Vitamin E addition also helps to stop skin damage by neutralising free radicals on the skin, as well as creating an antibacterial textile, offering a variety of potential uses.

New fabrics will help you stay cool in the hottest weather

Fabric choice in hot weather is important. The fibres of a garment matter, especially when trying to create a fabric to actively keep you cool. Synthetic fabrics physically don’t allow moisture (sweat) to escape, meaning that wearing polyester in a heat wave is not a good idea- it literally makes you hotter. Some fabrics already exist to help with this, for example in wicking sports gear or gym clothing. The wicking material of these clothes encourages sweat to be drawn away from the body and into the air, helping the wearer stay cool by removing the moisture from the body through evaporation. But this only works if the person is already sweating, so the use of these fabrics in fashion or for a larger market has been limited. Now however, new technical fabrics such as the nano-PE textile take this idea further. As well as being able to remove heat from the body through wicking away sweat, they are now able to remove body heat through infrared radiation, making the wearer cooler before they even get to the sweating stage. This has the effect of actually reducing the skin’s temperature, making the wearer much more comfortable and less in need of other high energy ways of cooling.

Cooling fabrics will impact environmental sustainability

Although it may seem counter intuitive to use plastic to address the environmental sustainability issues,  the potential benefits of these for sustainable textiles are huge. Being able to better control body temperatures may have real benefits to the comfort of outdoor workers and people living in hot climates, having impacts on heat-related illnesses. The biggest potential advantage however is impact on the environment. Being able to control temperatures indoors through technical textiles such as nano-PE could reduce the need for air conditioners and fans, significantly reducing energy consumption across the globe. Fabrics that offer health benefits to the wearer such as UV protection and moisturisation, as well as cooling fabrics are an exciting development. Technical textiles can help fashion production across the globe become more sustainable for the future, as well helping to cool people down.

Textile Consult is a management and training consultancy for textile manufacturers and retailers worldwide. Contact us today to see how we can make your business more effective and sustainable, as well as introducing exciting new technical textiles.