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Living in a material world.

Today's hang tag terminology for fabrics has turned fitnesswear shopping into a science.

Reading the hang tag on a fitness garment can be like trying to make sense of quantum physics - Antron, Lycra, Spandex, cotton-polyester-spandex, Coolmax, Supplex. These are just some of the buzz words bodywear manufacturers are using to define and label the fabrics in their garments.

It's a challenge to figure out what you're actually buying - a leotard or a new industrial chemical mix. Yet these fabrics are the latest in breakthrough technology to make you feel comfortable while you're performing your workout.

These fibers were created to meet the needs of all types of professional and amateur athletes. And today, with the evergrowing diversity of garments available, understanding some definitions for various fibers and fabrics will help you decode the trademark jargon.

Cotton has long been the No. 1 choice fiber for exercise garments among consumers. It is soft to touch, absorbent, comfortable to wear and crosses over to streetwear fashion. However, cotton-polyester blends help maintain the shape of a garment and dry faster than all-cotton garments. With the introduction of synthetic fibers into cotton, the cotton blends have become more functional and versatile for fitness garments.

At the other end of the spectrum from cotton is Antron nylon, known for its tremendous luster, strength and durability. Many of todays bodywear garments utilize this fiber for a bright, shiny look. It is also available in matte finishes.

The ever-popular Lycra, a Dupont trademark for the spandex fiber, combines the qualities of cotton and Antron. Knit in blends of cotton, nylon and polyester, it provides both stretch and recovery in a garment. Lycra spandex is a versatile fiber being used in all types of ready-to-wear clothing. It is the most widely used fabric in the '90s.

The new rage in fabrics for bodywear is Supplex. With the comfort and soft, supple look of a cotton fabric, it also has the strength and durability of nylon. Blended with Lycra, Supplex has stretch and recovery capabilities, keeps its vibrant colors and dries quickly. Fast becoming as popular as Supplex is the microdenier or microfiber, a fine, soft fiber with the luxurious quality of silk and durable benefits of polyester.

For serious athletes who need to keep cool and dry, Coolmax fabrics are made from channeled fiber that transports perspiration away from the skin and helps it evaporate. This function is often referred to as wicking.

The BreathableS fabric, used in Gilda Marx bodywear, is made of lightweight, non-chafing fiber with wicking and evaporative action that moves moisture away from the skin. Like Coolmax, the low-moisture absorption maximizes cooling airflow against the body, helping to keep you drier and more comfortable.

With the growing demand for high-tech, high-performance garments, you can be sure bodywear manufacturing will continually be updated and advanced. So the next time you're shopping for a new leotard, bike short or t-shirt and leggings to work out in or just wear about town, look for fabrics that will match the comfort, fit and function as well as fashion of the garment.

Gilda Marx is co-CEO and design director of Gilda Marx Industries, Inc., specializing in fitness fashionwear.

COPYRIGHT 1992 Aerobics and Fitness Association of America
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:exercise clothing fabric
Author:Marx, Gilda
Publication:American Fitness
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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