The sports industry, like many other sectors, is becoming more and more reliant on technology. A 2012 report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers states that, “Technology is as much a part of an athlete’s armoury as nutrition, training and coaching”. Technology plays a huge part in increasing athletes’ potential and comfort, but can this tech be repurposed in other walks of life? Sportswear technology can influence everyday wear in a wide variety of ways. Read on to find out exactly how.
A damaged item f clothing can be a nightmare. Luckily, sports kit technology can help us avoid this.
Clothes made without stitching is one useful innovation. In many garments, stitching is the weakest part and researchers have looked at ways of reducing the reliance on stitching. Menswear company, DYNE worked with manufacturing company Bemis Associates Inc. to create a collection where fabrics were bonded together with glue rather than thread. They found that this range was stronger and more comfortable, with less friction and weight and a lower risk of elements filtering in.
An extraordinarily durable footwear sole has recently been developed by researchers at the university of Manchester. Graphene was mixed with rubber to create the sole that is 50% stronger and more durable than ordinary training shoes. They’re also able to achieve more stretch and are more resistant to wear.
Extending the lifespan of clothing through innovations such as this one, can play a vital part in combatting fast fashion.
Many people feel concerned and embarrassed about perspiration. Whether it’s from the commute to the office, or due to working in a warm environment, no one wants to feel hot or sweaty all day. In sports, it’s important for athletes to keep cooler for longer and to ensure that heat or perspiration doesn’t affect their performance.
Football shirts, in particular, benefit from anti-perspiration technology. These sorts of fabrics react in a special way to sweat — instead of absorbing the moisture, they move it away from the individuals body. Some forms of this technology begin with special cooling polymers that are in the material (often visible as small blue rings). When sweat or moisture comes into contact with these polymers, they expand which causes a cooling sensation. In other cases, the material is made up of two layers of yarn — here, the material is able to move the sweat from the yarn that’s in contact with the body to the top layer of material where it is then evaporated.
Thanks to temperature control technology, athletes are able to achieve and maintain an optimal temperature during sports. There are socks available that are able to regulate temperature, increase blood flow and decrease injuries. These have extra benefits too — they can increase the blood flow of the wearer to supply more oxygen to the body which reduces muscle stress, cramps and can increase performance by 5%!
Although this technology hasn’t hit the high street yet, hopefully we will see it roll out in the near future. From moisture wicking blouses, to temperature control suits, we’d all benefit from this type of innovation.
Tracking performance and monitoring improvement is a priority for sportspeople. We’ve already seen this type of innovation make its way into our lives through wearable technology but it’s interesting to see how far this could go.
Thanks to biometric technology, we now have access to t-shirts, vests and bras that can monitor and record our physical activity! One fashion brand has developed a smart polo shirt that can monitor respiration and stress levels too — could we see these popular around the world sometime soon?
Speed and efficiency
Speed is essential in many sporting activities. This is what performance is often measured on, and how individuals measure their progression and success.
There was a lot of controversy about certain sportswear technology in 2099. The swimming regulatory body, Fina, banned a certain design of high-tech swimsuits after 94% of races at the 2008 Beijing Olympics were won by swimmers wearing the racer suit. So, what made it so effective? The suit was able compress a swimmer’s body into a streamlined tube, and it also trapped air which added buoyancy and reduced drag in the water. Studies found that the swimsuit cut an elite swimmer’s time by around 2% — it was deemed “technological doping” by some.
Some British cyclists have undergone 3D scanning in order to create a perfectly fitted kit. This is designed to reduce drag when cycling and make the cyclist truly aerodynamic. Paired with the teardrop shaped helmet and other improvements, the kit of a cyclist is optimal for peak performance.
Another controversial technology can be found in Nike’s footwear innovation. Their Vaporfly Elite trainers have been found to improve running economy by an average of 4% because of their design which includes carbon-fibre plates in the soles.
3D scanning could completely change the game when it comes to tailoring fitted garments. This could be more accurate and less time-consuming than getting measured by a tailor. Everything could become more personalised, from bodycon dresses to men’s white shirts. bringing a new meaning to fitted suits.
Our everyday wear will also be informed by speed enhancing technologies. Some people choose to run or cycle to work, and to shave a few seconds off their commute wouldn’t go amiss. Streamlined workwear and carbon-fibre plated trainers may make their way into our wardrobes sooner than we think.
There is a lot going on in the world of sports technology that could inspire us. From improving our fitting methods to reducing our perspiration levels during the day, a lot could change if we follow in the footsteps of sportswear innovation.