As consumers continue to incorporate more fitness into their daily routines, they want to be able to wear the same clothing not just during sports but also during everyday activities, such as grocery shopping or to the office. Cotton is proving to be a competitive – and dry – player in this category, sometimes referred to as “athleisure.”
Cotton’s natural properties can be enhanced through application innovations that reinvent it as a true performance fiber. Advanced technologies for cotton fabrics that wick moisture and repel water are just a few examples of how The Cotton Research & Promotion Program is discovering ways for cotton to find new markets for generations to come.
Wicking, Fast-Drying Performance
Developed by Cotton Incorporated, through funding from The Cotton Research & Promotion Program, TransDRY® technology for cotton is a high-performance moisture-management application that allows fabrics to “wick” and spread perspiration as well as, most of the high-tech synthetic fabrics that dominated this expanding market. The term “wick,” for lifting perspiration away from skin, is borrowed from a much older “high-performance” cotton application: candle wicks, which similarly lift wax into the flame.
Active people can put aside polyester and enjoy the comfort, softness and natural odor-fighting properties of their favorite cotton apparel with wicking and fast-drying performance.
The TransDRY® technology begins by treating cotton yarn with a special process to make it water-repellent, and blending the right amount of treated yarn with naturally absorbent cotton yarns. Fabric can be constructed to move moisture horizontally, vertically or from the skin side to the outside of a fabric.
Just a few of the iconic brands that have integrated this technology include Under Armour®, Eddie Bauer®, Gander Mountain®, Remington®1816™, 5.11 Tactical® and Element® (skateboarding).
In addition to TransDRY®, The Cotton Research & Promotion Pro-gram has successfully introduced high-performance finishes that move or repel moisture, including Wicking Windows™, Storm Cotton™ and Storm Denim™.
For decades, popular weather-resistant clothing was always made of nylon and polyester, and cotton was the comfort layer that needed protection from the elements. Today, the finishing technology behind Storm Cotton™ and Storm Denim™ gives cotton apparel excellent repellency throughout the life of the garment.
Although it repels liquid, the finish still allows moisture vapor to pass through the fabric where it can dissipate into the environment. Since Storm Cotton™ technology minimizes the amount of water the fabric will hold, garments dry much faster than untreated cotton, decreasing the amount of time and energy required for laundering.
Developed and marketed by The Cotton Research & Promotion Program, Storm Cotton™ and Storm Denim™ technology adds value and performance to many iconic apparel brands, including Cabela’s (Guidewear® and Roughneck™ lines), L.L. Bean (Katahdin Iron Works®), The North Face® (sweatshirts), Under Armour (Charged Cotton® Storm), 5.11 Tactical® (water-repellent job shirt), as well as popular regional brands in Canada, East Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Cotton Use Requirement
Globally, 442 companies are licensed to use one of Cotton Incorporated’s key fiber technologies. As with the TransDRY® moisture-wicking technology, it is not a requirement for apparel partners to label their products with the name Storm Cotton™ or Storm Denim™. They can call their products whatever they choose, but it is a requirement that if they use the technology they must use it on cotton!
While downturns in cotton prices make headlines, new markets and innovations make history. The program continues to cultivate new markets and applications for this renewable crop — on behalf of today’s American cotton producer and for the generations that follow.
The Cotton Board, which administers Cotton Incorporated’s Research and Promotion Program, contributed this article.