Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Celanese

Sportswear made from recyclable stretch fabric

Fashion & Beauty

Could this new fibre replace elastane in high-performance garments?

Spotted: Designing clothes that are easy to recycle is essential for cutting fashion’s enormous environmental footprint, but that’s much easier said than done when it comes to crafting high-performance garments – particularly compression sportswear that requires high stretchability. Elastane-based fabrics, known as Spandex or Lycra, are notoriously tricky to recycle, as the stretchy elastane clogs traditional shredders used to break down old clothes. NEOLAST could be the perfect replacement.

NEOLAST is a new fibre, developed by speciality materials and chemicals company Celanese and sportswear brand Under Armour, which acts as a high-performing alternative to traditional elastane. Unlike elastane, though, NEOLAST fibres are created using a proprietary melt-extrusion process without the need for hazardous solvents. Crucially, NEOLAST is made from recyclable elastoester polymers, which could drastically boost the circularity of blended stretch fabrics.

The final NEOLAST material is extremely stretchy, breathable, durable, and three times more moisture-wicking than similar existing fibres. Plus, according to Celanese, the nature of NEOLAST fibres also means that spinners can tweak the stretchiness of the final material depending on the desired fit.

In May, Under Armour released the first NEOLAST product – its Vanish Pro Training Tee, which is available exclusively on the Under Armour site and Celanese hopes to make the fibre available to more companies across the textile industry that want to replace elastane. Beyond athletic apparel, NEOLAST could also transform the production of swimwear, fleeces, shapewear, socks, and medical compression wear.

Written By: Matilda Cox



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