By: Fibre2Fashion

Today�s world is a busy world. Every one is busy with something or the other. Lifestyles of people all over the world are becoming more and more active. In this frenzied world, people are looking for things that are as easy to use and maintain as possible. The same applies to clothing. Consumers desire �hassle-free� or �easy-care� clothing that would require minimum maintenance. The demand for such easy-care clothing is growing. Today�s consumer wants clothes that would perform multiple uses, that is be used at work, at parties and also for after-work activities. These clothes should be durable and easy to care for. Comfort combined with practicality is what the consumers are looking for these days.

The topmost factors desired by consumers in their clothing are a good feel, ease in wearing and caring for the fabric, durability and price. However, it has been observed that consumers are even ready to shell out a bit more money when they can get the benefit of easy care.

More and more people are demanding clothes that can be hand-washed or machine-washed rather than getting them dry cleaned, being hard pressed for time and also on account of the rising costs of dry cleaning. They desire that the clothes should not lose their fresh appearance even after a number of washes. Moreover, there is a preference for clothes that they need little or no ironing. In short, consumers are demanding for fabrics that require minimum or no caring for.

In April 2004, Greenfield Online, a research firm studied 3000 Americans as part of a survey conducted on behalf of Nano-Tex, a leading provider of textile solutions. The results showed that 82% of the people studied preferred having high-performance features in their clothing, such as perspiration and odor control, resistance to stains and fading and a low probability of wrinkles. A major part of this group surveyed, almost 70%, already had such performance-enhanced, easy-care clothes in their wardrobe. When questioned who needed hassle-free clothing the most, men and women differed in their opinions. Of the males surveyed, 65% stated that it was they who needed easy-care clothing more. The women surveyed were divided into three roughly equal groups. One group stated that men needed easy-care clothing the most, while another stated that it was women. The third group said that it was kids who were more in need of easy-to-care-for clothing.

Scientists have constantly been experimenting with the concept of easy-care clothing since years. One of the oldest innovations in this area was the paper dress, which required no care at all. These use-and-throw-away paper dresses were colorful and had bright designs on them. These dresses were cheap. However, the fad soon died away on account of the lack of security associated with paper dresses. Another development in this field was vinyl clothing. Vinyl was initially used to make rainwear. Later on, colorful vinyl dresses having bold patterns were developed for routine wear. These dresses required minimum care and could easily be wiped down. Like the paper dress, this fad too did not pick up.
Textile firms all over the world are trying to come up with new technology in order to make clothing as hassle-free for consumers as possible. Wool is considered to be the fabric of choice for making easy-care clothing. However, wool is not preferred for developing clothing because it is heavy. Researchers are trying to develop easy-care fabrics using a combination of wool with other materials. A large suit manufacturer in Australia, Berkeley Apparel, developed a suit using a combination of 60% wool and 40% polyester in the year 2003. These suits could be easily machine-washed and required minimum ironing. The scientists at AgResearch, a New Zealand-based research institute, developed a shirting fabric from pure wool that was lightweight, machine-washable and shrink-resistant. According to the scientists at AgResearch, this fabric possessed several appreciable features such as being shrink-proof, allowing more air circulation and no use of any chemical treatment. This fabric makes use of yarn that is made using specially designed rollers This yarn can be woven into a lightweight fabric. Later on, the institute also went on to develop suiting fabric as well as fabric for trousers using the same technology.

One of the most successful developments in the field of easy-care clothing is wrinkle-free clothing. In the early 1990s, special finishing agents began to be used to prevent wrinkles in clothing. This technology was initially used for men�s trousers. Later on, as its popularity increased, it began to be used for women�s wear, men�s shirts as well as baby wear. Convenience and mobility were the key considerations in the development of this technology.

Another important advancement in the field of easy-care clothing is stain-resistant clothing, that is clothing that does not stain. Even when something is spilled on these clothes, they roll off the fabric without soaking into it. Stain-resistant technology was developed decades ago, but its popularity in the marketplace has increased recently. Newer and newer methods are being developed to create better stain-repellant fabrics. Stain-protective trousers and shirts are becoming increasingly popular in the modern times. Several large brands like Lee and Dockers have brought out stain-protective trousers for everyday use, the demand for which is good.

Many brands like LL Bean are emphasizing on shrink-resistant clothing. Such clothing is made using fabric that is washed and shrunk beforehand, so that the clothes do not shrink after stitching.

The popularity and consumer demand for easy-care clothing continues to rise due to the comfort and expediency that they allow. More and more research and advances continue to take place in this field.

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