Likewise, sportswear must provide a particular type of performance depending on the sport the clothes are designed for. While for some elasticity is key, for other sports lightness may make a difference, or the ability of maintaining body temperature.
Therefore an essential role is played not only by construction techniques of clothing but also and more importantly by the fabrics used in its design. Even within a sport, different items may be better for different levels of practice. For example, hard ski boots can help the stability of a professional skier as much as they can hurt the amateur’s first slides, and some fabrics are better for beginners with fewer requirements than for professionals of certain disciplines.
One of the most popular fabrics and one of the most extensively used in the production of sportswear like swimming costumes is polyester. Polyester is a very light fabric that does not wrinkle or shrink even after many washes. Although it is not as breathable as cotton or other natural fabrics, it is very used in combination with them in order to build pants and jackets of mixes properties. In the cases were breathability of clothes is not essential, like in the case of skirts for figure skating dresses or flamenco costumes, polyester is a favorite for its capacity of absorbing bright colors and being easy to clean.
Polyester double mesh is widely used for its elastic properties. Now more than ever, sports costumes and uniforms tend to be fitted to the body, both for esthetic and practical reasons: in sports were velocity is a key factor, tight clothes help minimize the effect of air resistance. This makes it essential for new designs to provide athletes with freedom of movement while resisting tension without losing their form.
Combinations of polyester and spandex allow for isolation of humidity and tend to keep the body cool and dry, providing at the same time and additional muscular support that contributes in alleviating the feeling of fatigue and facilitating blood circulation.
Nylon is another extensively used fabric in the industry of sportswear, especially when designing outdoor clothing. Its properties allow for the creation of wind and water resistant items that last for a long time even when exposed to extreme meteorological conditions. This is why nylon is frequently used in the manufacture of trekking and hiking equipment.
Polyurethane coating of nylon fabrics is often used in the production of jackets with more demanding permeability, which tends to make the items heavier but also more adequate for sports practiced in difficult environmental conditions. Evolution of fabrics and combination with other chemicals is therefore a field of research that keeps up to day with sports developments, as shown by the advance, now fully incorporated to swimming costumes for competition, of adding chemicals to make swimming suits more resistant to chlorine.
Sportswear design is an ever changing industry with as many demands as athletes competing and with as many choices as tastes there are. Alternatives, luckily, are almost infinite.