It’s official: cotton is no longer the enemy. The March introduction of the “Charged Cotton™” line by athletic apparel brand Under Armour® signals the viability of cotton as a performance fiber for the outdoor and athletic apparel categories. Cotton textile innovations are enabling brands like Under Armour and others to merge the comfort of cotton with a range of performance attributes, particularly advanced moisture wicking.
Cotton’s comfort has long made it the preferred fiber among consumers, but its absorbent nature hampered its use in performance athletic and outdoor apparel. Cotton Incorporated President and CEO J. Berrye Worsham comments:
“Several years Cotton Incorporated recognized the growing athletic apparel category and the fact that it was dominated by synthetics, even though the majority of consumers preferred cotton. As a result, we challenged ourselves to develop an integrated research and marketing program to help introduce new cotton products into the athletic and outdoor apparel marketplace.”
The integrated effort resulted in a series of innovations including the TransDRY™ technology, which wicks moisture away from the body for accelerated evaporation. The TransDRY technology was adopted by Longworth Industries for their well-established brand of Polarmax® technical base layers in 2010, and newcomer Cana Collection just launched the technology in their line of premium performance tee shirts for men and women.
The introduction of ‘technical cottons’ into the previously synthetic-dominated athletic apparel category is beneficial to many sectors of the supply chain: Brands are able to expand their selections with natural fiber options, and cotton stands to gain market share in the category. However, the real winner here is the consumer. A recent Cotton Incorporated survey reveals that when consumers were asked whether they would purchase cotton sports apparel that offered the same performance features as synthetics, almost all of them (97%) said they would prefer a cotton alternative or would be willing to try it.
Cotton Incorporated Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton. The Program is designed and operated to improve the demand for and profitability of cotton.