Activewear fabric-A Guide for a better Understanding

Due to that wide variety of physical activities, there’s a massive demand for the athletic attire to accommodate the movement and environment you’re in. Depending on the type exercise you’re indulging in, you’ll still always need clothing with material that will minimize the discomfort that sweat entails and allows you to move freely and comfortably.


Nylon is a very durable and long-lasting material compared to many others. It’s abrasion and mildew resistant and has silky smooth fibers. It’s comfortable to the touch, aids in evaporating sweat, and has some elastic properties. It’s not the most moisture absorbent; however, if taken with proper care, it can still wick away sweat just as good as others. Nylon is most commonly used in sports bras, tights and is implemented in most activewear attires. Nylon will most likely be mixed with other fabrics.


Polyester is breathable, lightweight, wrinkle-free, and has fast sweat-wicking properties. This is one of the most durable fabrics to use because its manufactured out of plastic and is mixed with other chemicals. Additionally, it’s smooth on the skin, stretchy, and unlikely to shrink when washed, which ensures that it’ll hold it’s shape.

Unfortunately, it’s not the most absorbent material to wear outside, especially in the heat. So, instead of drying on the cloth, it’ll be left to dry on it’s own. This is why it’s recommended to wear clothing made out of polyester indoors.


Spandex is known for it’s incredible elasticity and is often designed for tightly fitted attire. It’s manufactured by a flexible polyurethane fabric and is one of the many favorite materials that companies utilize within their activewear. Additionally,

it’s breathable, offers comfort, more flexibility of movement, and is moisture-wicking.


Lycra falls under the same category of spandex. It’s very elastic, thick, form-fitting, and flexible. Lycra’s activewear fabric is almost always combined with other materials to aid in maintaining shape. It’s often woven into most activewear, swimwear, active undergarments, and jerseys.


Silver acts as an antimicrobial fabric to prevent odor and bacterial accumulation. It’s also known to regulate your body temperature. Silver is a sub-category of polyester that’s mixed with recycled silver.

Natural Fibers

Natural fibers take a more environmentally friendly approach to activewear apparel. It’s crucial to point out that most natural fibers are made out of cotton. And although we love how cotton feels on our skin, it’s horrible to workout in due to how non-absorbent it is. It will leave you feeling icky and wet for long periods. Natural fibers are only useful if combined with other technical fibers.

Bamboo Fibers

Bamboo fiber is another eco-friendly approach to activewear fabrics and acts as an alternative to the synthetic chemically made materials. As it’s gaining popularity, more and more companies are starting to design their activewear with bamboo fibers due to all the benefits it offers and the environmentally friendly factors. It has antimicrobial properties, protects you from UV rays, it’s lightweight, moisture-wicking, soft, durable, odorless, and will keep you fresh in the summer and warm in the winter!

Synthetic Fibers

Synthetic fibers are mechanically engineered and created through chemical synthesis by scientists. It’s made with athletic clothing because of its evaporative fast-drying properties. The pull the sweat away from your skin, out of your clothing, and into the environment/Air. This allows a better cooling process for the body.


As the name indicates, microfibers are manufactured by thin and delicate microscopic threads. They’re man-made and are 100 times smaller and more delicate than a human hair. As a result, this fabric is costly and is mainly used in branded companies.


Tactel is commonly used for underwear or as a stretch jersey. It has incredible moisture-wicking properties as it drys eight times faster than cotton. This fabric is soft, durable, and lightweight.


From it’s name, many would be able to infer that elastane is known for it’s outstanding elastic properties. Elastane is a type of synthetic fiber and has completely revolutionized stretch apparel.


Known for being a trademark of Nike, Dri-fit is well-known for it’s impressive sweat-wicking polyester at a high evaporation rate.

Merino Wool

This material is harvested from the Merino sheep. They are known to have ultra-soft wool. They produce extraordinary wool with fibers that are 1/10 of the thickness of human, b but at the same time re extremely preamble and porous.

This is great for athletic hiking clothing because your body needs to breathe to regulate your temperature. This fiber is durable, stretchy, fine, and is soft to the touch.


This material is applied to other fabrics to regulate odor control. Sweat is odorless, but when mixed with cloth, it creates a hot and humid environment for bacteria to multiply and grow, which causes the stinky smell. Polygiene stops the growth of odor-causing bacteria at its origin. It achieves this by using a low concentration of silver salt (silver chloride), which has antimicrobial properties.


This fabric is breathable and waterproof. Gore-Tex resists water from entering while still allowing water vapor to pass through. It’s designed this way to be lightweight and keep you dry when encountering water within any type of environment, especially when it’s windy and raining.


This is another environmentally friendly fabric. It’s made out of fibers from wooden pulp. It’s wrinkle-free and will help you stay cool in hot summers.


This eco-friendly and highly absorbent material is a sub-type of cotton. The texture feels the same as regular cotton and is equally soft.


This fabric is known for having excellent color retention, it’s quick-drying, breathable, and many companies label their moisture-wicking products as Supplex. It’s also found as woven or a stretch jersey.


Polypropylene is thoroughly watered resistant and is a plastic-based fabric.


X-static is made out of metal and has silver particles infused within it. The silver gives the fabric antimicrobial properties, which prevents the build-up of fungus and bacteria.


Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that’s made with a very fine knit gauge and smooth thread that used in diving wetsuits. The polymerization of chloroprene manufactures it. Neoprene expresses excellent chemical stability and sustains flexibility over wide temperature ranges. This material has a very smooth texture and is usually mixed with other materials like spandex or Lycra.

This is what traps the water in between the suit and your body. It creates a thermal barrier that counters the cold water. Additionally, there are two main types of neoprene used in wet suits. They are open-cell neoprene and closed-cell neoprene.

Final Thoughts

As demonstrated, there are various amounts of activewear fabric that serve different purposes to help accommodate your physical needs to the environment and movements you’re performing in. I sincerely hope this post helps you have a better understanding of different fabrics that are used within activewear!

4 thoughts on “Activewear fabric-A Guide for a better Understanding

  1. Anestis says:

    I agree with you the choice of fabric depends on the type of exercise. I am bit more traditional though since my choice is on cotton.

    From the synthetics, my choice is on gore-tex. Light-weight, but it keep you warm.


    1. Aminah says:

      Yup, that’s very true! I too love gore-tex. It’s great because it’s waterproof and very handy to travel with!

  2. Matt says:

    I will choose Polyester to be my top#1 synthetic when I need to purchase activewear. I have some activewear that made from Polyester, so I know it’s indeed like what you mentioned in this article, breathable, lightweight, and wrinkle-free. I will also recommend people purchase the active that made from Polyester too. Thanks for sharing today, I learned something new to look for next time purchasing activewear.



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