2pure-october-17
2pure-october-17
May 17, 2017

Fashion, function or science mumbo jumbo?

David Hemming, UK country manager for X-Bionic, looks at the science and development of sportswear

Presented with the question, what level of research does it take to develop a new technology? Lots! Let me share these quick insights.

I will use just one of our technical benefits to explain this. For so many brands the element of fashion precedes technical and scientific innovation, choosing colour as the key marketing feature.

This is not innovative in any way and across many sports the basic fabrics offer little to no performance gains for the end user. You should ask, will what I wear really effect how well I will perform today?

The evolution process of humans, like nature, tells us a great story, giving us an excellent blueprint to work from. Performance sport comes with all the classics, heat, sweat, fatigue and changes in environment.

In many ways, the biggest challenge we must overcome is the mindset of the consumer environment we are in – the pace in which the market accepts evolution of function over fashion is a hurdle to overcome.

With detailed research and back up by EMPA, in Switzerland, X-Bionic have built a brand on function and not fashion. The battle for us is convincing people that an outfit can aid cooling by 50 per cent, give recovery of 20 per cent, lower lactate acid by seven per cent and reduce overall average heart rates by 2.5 beats per minute, and that the same outfit can regulate temperature in winter.

To many this is marketing hype and sales spin. However, what we have researched means we are able to claim results in new fabric that translates into new construction processes and new patents This then brings gains to those sports we apply it to. This sets us apart from the rest of the market.

With over 200 design and medical benefits this has seen us win over 520 global awards for function and design.

However, we are still challenged with the fine line of hanger appeal. Simply using how the human body works we can enhance sweating systems that then have a knock-on effect through the complete performance cycle.

For example, don’t wick the sweat away yet, move it through hydrophilic and hydrophobic material built into the garments yarns and we create a bigger surface area on the skin and use the sweat to cool.

The effect is your performance is improved in power, strength and endurance. If we double the surface area we can double the cooling and this applies to any sport. Other bonuses to not wicking the sweat away and keeping this film of sweat on the skin to aid the cooling results in less sweat needed and the core of the body is regulated to the optimum of 37 degrees.

Typically, we see athletes drinking less through better thermal regulation. Less sweat also results in less electrolytes and salts lost. We also prove that the amount of energy we expel to run our cooling system is reduced, hence our saying of “turning sweat back into energy.”

We also do not limit ourselves to a single sport.

On last count we have products and day-to-day life-living products that cover 15 plus sectors. Gone in so many ways are the days of wearing a cotton T-shirt and a cheap pair of baggy pants to run a 5k of hike over a mountain.

What we develop and learn in one sport generally comes up with a cross over into another sporting area, cross pollination. Time and time again we can see the consumer floating up and down our brand, as what we make fits a consumer who likes to do multiple sports.

So why aren’t all sports clothing brands blazing a trail to find the next patentable product? Well, it’s not fashion!

For us at X-Bionic we will always dive into and research the way we do. Sure, it is expensive, sure it’s not fashion and ultimately it’s not easy to come up with new groundbreaking products. So who are we aiming this at?

We are aiming our brand and its science, at the individuals that look at performance as a critical experience on the day. Nothing holds more truth than their own experience.

For the retailer it should be focused on the brands that offer deep research data as this creates differentiation in a very crowded market place.

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