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.

Source: Photos taken by TTRI at ISPO Munich 2019
Houdini The Alchemist (middle) made of 100% biodegradable synthetic fiber material, the PrimaLoft Bio fill

(3) Biomass Nylon

Source: Genomatica
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 durabi