Trends of Sustainable Materials for Active and Performance Apparel

Trends of Performance Fabrics


(1) Recycled Materials

Recycled polyester and nylon remain the most common sustainable eco-friendly materials used in sports performance fabrics. A growing number of sports and outdoor brands choose to replace raw materials with recycled materials at an affordable cost, and are keen on selecting recycled materials with social impacts and benefits (e.g., Thread and Parley for the Oceans). In addition, recycled fabric materials do not end with fibers. The use of recycled cotton, recycled wool and recycled down has increased due to technological innovation.

(2) Biodegradable Materials


Due to doubts over the negative impact of synthetic fiber materials on the environment, designers’ interest in biodegradable fabrics has increased. At ISPO Munich 2019, outdoor brand, Houdini launched The Alchemist, a jacket made of recycled material and biodegradable synthetic fiber material, the PrimaLoft Bio fill . The Südwolle Group exhibited a series of biodegradable products, including merino wool blended hemp, Lyocell, silk, and biodegradable nylon Amni Soul Eco, while combining the company’s Naturetexx plasma technology to increase the performance and durability of fabrics. Another interesting series is the BIOBACK fabrics with high humidity management and quick drying functions, launched by M.I.T.I., an Italian fabric manufacturer. This material is biodegradable, and does not release any toxic substances into soil.



Houdini The Alchemist (middle) made of 100% biodegradable synthetic fiber material, the PrimaLoft Bio fill

(3) Biomass Nylon


Multiple companies collaborate in the research and development of Biomass Nylon 6 in the EFFECTIVE Project in Europe

Biomass fiber materials have also attracted attention in the area of sportswear and high-performance apparel due to sustainability and environmental protection issues. For example, German outdoor brand Vaude is working with 12 partners to launch the EFFECTIVE project to study the commercial development of Biomass Nylon 6 .



Opportunities and Challenges in Circular Economy


The concept of circular economy is currently driving innovation in sustainable and eco-friendly materials. Sports and outdoor supplies companies have also begun to consider the significance and effects of design, manufacturing, use and end of life. The adoption of circular design principles begins with the creation of products to extend life and durability, and takes into account the fact that products can be reused, shared and repaired, as well as recycled or composted when they are exhausted.

(1) Rise of the Clothing Rental Business Model

For instance, Routinely, a New York startup company, can provide sportswear kit renting services according to customer needs. Customers can choose to rent worn or brand new sportswear according to price considerations. At present, the well-known brands provided by this company for renting include Nike, Outdoor Voices, Lululemon, RHONE, adidas, UA, etc. The rise of rental and resale trends is mainly resulted from the gradual rise of the Millennials as major consumers, as the Millennials do not intend to own items over the long run, but prefers specific products needed for short-term use. The clothing rental business model has affected apparel design and manufacturers because buyers are increasingly concerned about product durability.


Sportswear renting website, ROUTINELY

(2) Challenges Facing the Sports and Outdoor Industries

Since most sports and high-performance fabrics are equipped with specific functions, they are usually made of mixed materials, which are often not recyclable in existing recycling systems. Although a growing number of recycled or biodegradable fabrics with potential is currently entering the market, these fabrics have to be dyed or printed, and often require additional performance coatings, which may affect the recyclability or biodegradability of products when they are scrapped. Therefore, manufacturers are currently developing and testing large numbers of solutions.


運動機能服飾的永續環保材料趨勢


機能布料趨勢

(1)回收材料

回收聚酯和耐隆仍然是最普遍應用於運動機能布料的永續環保素材,越來越多的運動及戶外品牌在成本可負擔的情況下,選擇以回收材料替代原生材料,且熱衷於選擇具有社會影響效益的回收材料(如:Thread及Parley for the Oceans)。此外,回收材質布料並不止於合成纖維,由於技術創新也使得回收棉、回收羊毛及回收羽絨的使用量也增加。


(2)生物可分解材料

基於合成纖維材料對環境產生負面影響的疑慮,提升設計師對生物可分解布料的興趣。在ISPO Munich 2019展會上,如:戶外品牌Houdini推出The Alchemist,採用回收材質及可生物降解的合成纖維材料PrimaLoft Bio填充物製成夾克。Südwolle集團展示了生物可分解系列產品,包括美麗諾羊毛混紡麻、Lyocell、絲綢和生物可分解的尼龍 Amni Soul Eco,並結合公司的Naturetexx電漿技術,提高布料的機能和耐用性。另一個有趣的系列是義大利紡織品生產商M.I.T.I.推出BIOBACK布料,具有高濕度管理和快乾功能,此材料可生物分解,且不會在土壤中釋放任何有毒物質。


(3)生質尼龍


生質纖維材料因也具有永續環保議題,故在運動和高機能服裝領域也受到關注。如:德國戶外品牌Vaude正在與12個合作夥伴合作展開歐洲EFFECTIVE計畫,研究生質尼龍 6的商業開發。


循環經濟的機會與挑戰


(1)服裝租賃商業模式的崛起

如:紐約新創公司Routinely可根據客戶需求提供運動服飾套件的租借,客戶可依價格考量選擇租用穿過的或全新的運動服飾,目前提供包括Nike、Outdoor Voices、Lululemon、RHONE、adidas、UA等知名品牌租借。租賃和轉售趨勢的崛起關鍵在於千禧年世代逐漸成為主要消費者,千禧年世代沒有長期擁有的想法,反而更喜歡短期使用所需要的特定商品。服裝租賃的商業模式已對服裝的設計和製造產生影響,因為購買者越來越關注產品的耐用性。


(2) 運動和戶外產業面臨的挑戰

由於大多數運動和高機能布料為以提供特定的機能,通常會採用混合材料,這在現有的回收系統中通常不可回收。雖然目前已有越來越多的潛在可回收或生物可分解的布料進入市場,但這些布料需要染色或印花,並且常需使用額外的機能塗料,這可能會影響產品報廢時的可回收性或生物可分解性。因此,各家廠商目前正在開發和測試大量解決方案。


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