Every year the Outdoor Retailer Expo is where it goes down for techwear brands and their fabrics. Its where they get to show off their latest innovations and ways that they utilise technical fabrications. Having just taken place at the end of June, its fitting we take a look at the most exciting announcements. It may be sooner than you think that you see these new technologies leave the lab and enter the store.
Some may not know that the guys behind GORE-TEX, W.L. Gore & Associates, made a bold move into clothing one year ago. Bold because it was the first time they made something that wasn’t waterproof, the very thing they are famous around the world for.
Instead of “guaranteed to keep you dry”, this season GORE-TEX will make tees that are made from GORE-TEX INFINIUM Performance Fiber. It has the same ePTFE that powers the brand’s famous waterproof membrane, but this time spun into super-light, moisture-wicking athletic apparel. The resulting garments allow for high airflow and faster drying than synthetic tech tees of the same weight. We love GORE-TEX, we even have our own Shelflife x adidas Consortium GORE-TEX jacket.
The North Face FUTURELIGHT
TNF were not to be left out either, debuting their FUTURELIGHT product line. It is The North Face’s next-generation waterproof performance fabric that is a breathable membrane created through a process the brand calls ‘nanospinning.’ This process creates a more air-permeable membrane than any The North Face has used before. It also lets the brand’s designers fine-tune each jacket’s fabric to match the weight, stretch, breathability, and texture to the specific end use. For example, Summit Series jackets will be rougher and heavier, while packable shells will weigh around 198 grams.
Schoeller Corkshell Fabrication
Swiss outdoor fabric producer Scholler have created something seriously interesting - a waterproof made from cork trees. The high-performance softshell composite is made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified cork granulate that’s a byproduct of the manufacture of wine corks. This granulate is pulverised and then anchored as a coating to Schoeller’s tech fabrics. Shoeller is bluesign-approved, which means it is made responsibly and sustainably manufactured. The fact that it is made from a byproduct of the wine industry is extremely interesting too. The first cork shell jacket to feature this advancement is Holden’s Summit jacket, with many more applications of the Corkshell planned for the future.
Sustainable Waterproofing by Black Diamond Equipment
It may be news to some that waterproof clothing, designed to keep Mother Nature’s forces out, is actually not the best for the environment it tries to protect from. How you might ask? Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating causes water to bead up when it comes into contact with the fabric, which gives it its water-repellent properties. The downside is water actually gets polluted while applying DWR coating, and as the jacket degrades, it will pollute whatever it washes off too.
For 2020, Black Diamond Equipment has created Highline Stretch Shell, a waterproof, windproof, lightweight tech jacket made using a water-free DWR. Partnering with Green Theme Technologies, they created the water-free DWR by hyperfusing it to the fabric at the fiber level, in contrast to spray-on or wash-in coatings. This allows it to perform better in wet conditions while keeping breathability high.