Power Air's structure has been likened to 'fabric bubble wrap'

Power Air's structure has been likened to 'fabric bubble wrap'

Outdoors textile company Polartec has unveiled a new fabric it says will cut down on the shedding of fibres.

Its Power Air material sheds five times less than similar fabrics, it said.

Environmentalists are concerned that microplastics from garments, including those used by outdoor enthusiasts, are increasingly finding their way into the world’s oceans.

Polartec said its new textile material is the first fabric technology engineered to reduce fibre shedding.

“By encapsulating lofted fibres within a multilayer, continuous yarn fabric construction, this revolutionary new platform offers advanced thermal efficiency that is proven to shed five times less than other premium midlayer-weight fabrics,” a Polartec spokesperson said.

“Insulation that effectively regulates core body temperature has traditionally been achieved via lofted or high-pile knit structures that hold warm air. Although Polartec is a leader in making resilient materials, it has recognised that any exposed fibre is susceptible to shedding as a function of normal wear.

“The Polartec Power Air construction process mitigates this by encasing the insulating lofted fibres within the knitting process.”

The company’s chief executive Gary Smith said: “By using the efficiency of encapsulated air to shelter lofted fibres, Polartec Power Air will drastically improve how fabrics perform over their lifetime with respect to versatility, comfort, and sustainability.

“We’re only beginning to realise the potential for this new type of fabric construction.”

The first version of the material has an internal grid structure on one side similar to ‘fabric bubble wrap’ which Polartec said simultaneously holds air and increases breathability, while the other side features a smooth, durable outer surface that resists pilling and minimises drag.

“As the first fabric construction to encase air with a continuous yarn, Polartec Power Air is a foundational technology platform that will eventually provide shedding reduction to all existing apparel categories, including insulation, lightweight next-to-skin, and extreme weather protection,” it said.

The new fabric will be used in an Adidas garment

The new fabric will be used in an Adidas garment

Power Air received the World Textile Information Network’s future textile award for best innovation in sustainable textiles.

“Polartec has never shied away from solving tough, intractable problems,” said Mike Rose, the company’s vice-president of product development. “Power Air has the potential to be our most significant development since pioneering the process to knit fabrics made of post-consumer plastic bottles.”

The new fabric is the product of several years’ development under the Polartec Eco-engineering process, which aims to create sustainable fabrics with elite performance.

Mr Smith unveiled Power Air today at Performance Days in Munich. The Polartec Power Air Hoody is now available from Adidas, with more brands including Houdini and Mammut set to release their own offerings in the coming months.

Polartec devised a new testing protocol for the new fabric to measure shedding due to home laundering. The protocol simulates dozens of launderings in a single cycle to accurately capture any microfibres lost in a lifetime of use. The test then accurately determines the percentage of weight loss due to shedding.

Polartec invented the process of knitting technical fleece from post-consumer plastic bottles in 1993, recycling well over one billion bottles to date.

Earlier this year, Polartec introduced its 100 per cent recycled Power Fill insulation that further reduces environmental impact by eliminating the need for wasteful and non-recycled carrying agents.

Mr Smith said: “Polartec Power Air is more than solving a problem and creating a new platform. It’s a brand statement about the power of fabric.”

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