Everybody’s heard of it, but nobody really seems to know what it is. You mostly likely know it from the world of sports. Athletes of all kinds wear garments with Lycra.
And even if the name isn’t explicitly stated, the material is still used, just under the guise of a different name: elastane.
The fibre, elastane, was developed in 1959 by the American company DuPont under the name Fibre K and subsequently brought to market. Commercialised in 1962 as Lycra, the brand basically revolutionised the clothing industry. Today, Lycra is a brand belonging to Invista Inc., a manufacturer of synthetic fibres, including Cordura. The brand Lycra is known for elastane fibres of the highest quality that are tailored to very specific areas of use with the help of additional treatments and technologies.
Of course, if you look for Lycra in our Alpine Trek shop, you probably won’t find it. Why? Well, it’s usually listed as elastane. The reason for this is quite simple, and quite frankly, dull: as a result of the Textile and Clothing Legislation of the European Union, the naming, description and labelling of textiles are strictly regulated so as to be consistent across the board. That way, the consumer can immediately see what a particular garment is made of.
The multi-tool among synthetic fibres
Lycra is an extremely elastic man-made fibre and much more durable than natural rubber. In addition to being stretchy and strong, the fibre boasts all sorts of other useful properties that really shine when incorporated into clothing:
- It can stretch up to five times its length
- It hardly absorbs any moisture
- It has the ability to return to its original shape
- It’s light, soft and comfortable to wear
- It’s easy to clean and long lasting
Due to these wonderful characteristics, Lycra is an incredibly popular fibre for a wide variety of garments, especially those that are designed to be tight-fitting and to conform to your every movement. Oftentimes, Lycra is mixed with other fabrics, such as polyamide or cotton, for additional comfort. And, garments don’t need much in order for you to see a dramatic effect. In fact, as little as 2% Lycra can significantly alter the characteristics of the final fabric, resulting in a much more elastic material.
Regardless of what kind of athlete you are, everyone from cyclists to wrestlers to dancers are guaranteed to have at least a small percentage of Lycra in their clothing.
Made for movement
By this point, the advantages of Lycra are probably fairly obvious. Simply put: it makes athletes much more comfortable. When you put on a Lycra garment, you won’t feel at all restricted, and the clothing has the ability to conform to your every move with ease. Plus, as I already mentioned above, when you sweat, Lycra won’t become saturated like other fibres. It will remain nice and dry, wicking moisture away from your skin as you go.
In order for you to be perfectly apparelled for each and every activity you’re engaged in, Lycra divided their products into different categories. There is a total of four categories, with Beauty and xtra Life being reserved for fashion, so we’ll leave those out for now. For outdoor enthusiasts, runners and cyclists, the following categories are the most relevant:
SPORT: for products in this category, Lycra utilises POWER and ACTIVE technology not only to deliver compression power but also to provide your muscles with the support they need. Of course, this active wear boasts a very high elasticity as well, with the unique ability to return to its original shape time and again. On occasion, they also use Bio-Based fibres, 70% of which comes from a renewable source derived from maize, and thus significantly reduce the use of synthetic fibres. What’s more, several textiles are made of fibres equipped with their so-called Black technology. These fibres are capable of retaining their colour intensity even after multiple washes. Plus, they’re not transparent and stay that way.
ENERGIZE: the freshFX technology is primarily used for underwear and swimwear. It is moisture-wicking and resistant to washing and stretching out.
It’s clear from the versatility, durability, elasticity and the ability to retain its original shape that clothing with Lycra is an excellent choice for athletes of all kinds. Plus, it’s so easy to clean. If you follow the washing/care instructions for your Lycra garment, you’ll surely get a lot of joy out of it for a long time to come.