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Market for sportswear never been more competitive
14
Mar '11
Smart But Casual Is Functional For sportswear manufacturers, looking 'smart but casual' while 'wearing functional' is where it's at. Retailers are constantly evaluating marketing strategies with a view to both market penetration and development.

Mainstream fashions now increasingly incorporate an element of the outdoors; camouflage patterns, for example, are worn in casualwear by both men and women. A combination of the fashionable with the functional introduces the great outdoors to mainstream clothing; the idea is for sportswear to become both leisure wear and to retain its functional element.

Marketing strategy takes functional performance of a garment very seriously. This is amply illustrated by the example of Columbia Sportswear, a company that has launched its 'Omni Heat' range, inspired by space technology. A heat reflective coating is applied to the inner lining of the innermost fabric of the garment, reflecting heat back to the wearer's body.

Similarly, antibacterial deodorizing socks and t-shirts are now common at middle range outlets. As a consequence, reflective prints and piping are now found in Reebok jackets, as another example of the gimmicks involved in combining fashion with function. Price, however, usually indicates the durability and performance quality of the garment.

Sportswear can have other functional quirks, with antibacterial, UV protection, quick dry/moisture management, anti-mosquito, anti-static, windproof, waterproof, breathable, stain resistant properties now de rigeur. A quick drying moisture management fabric, for example, removes moisture from the surface of the skin to the inner side of the fabric and then onto the outer side. This helps reduce heat stress and enables the wearer to feel dry. Fibre structure, composition, construction and chemical finishing all contribute to this miracle of clothing technology.

Functional Fabric That Lasts

The manufacturers of specialized fabrics put much effort into research and development. Textile technology is advancing hand in hand with nanotechnology and a massive improvement in functional fabrics' durability and performance has resulted. Commercialized production technologies enable the innovation of fabrics with antibacterial deodorizing, moisture management and stain resistance performance for over 30 household machine washes. High resolution microscopy is utilized by companies to analyze the coating of a fabric surface after repeat laundering.

SGS can help test fabrics innovated by sportswear manufacturers. With its global network of laboratories and the breadth of its knowledge, integrating successful innovative clothing solutions in outdoor and sportswear fabrics has never been more exciting.

SGS Consumer Testing Services

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