In addition to modern sportswear, the market is increasingly demanding functional undergarments for the fashion and business sectors. However, for this application textiles with special properties are required which clearly differentiate them from sportswear. These gaps in the market have now been closed by a current research project (ZIM-Project KF2136724CJ2) at the Hohenstein Institute, Bonnigheim, Germany, investigating first-layer textiles.
The partners have placed high requirements on the laundry items which are worn directly next to the skin. For instance, outer garments such as business shirts or blouses should glide over them with as little friction as possible and should also mechanically interact with them a little. To achieve this, the selection of fiber substrates, fabric manufacture and finishing must be finely-tuned throughout the process. First-layer textiles should be as inconspicuous as possible
under shirts and blouses and should appear invisible, yet at the same time be pleasant to wear. When used in conjunction with business wear, these first-layer textiles must not negatively impair the concentration and attention of the wearer. And last but not least, the materials must ensure that the wearer feels fresh throughout the whole (working) day and does not smell of sweat.
In order to combine these material properties and implement them in a product range,
the researchers at the Department for Hygiene, Environment and Medicine at the Hohenstein Institute, together with Pro Feet Functional Wear GmbH, a designer of seamless functional sportswear, are working on a joint and publicly-funded project, investigating the complex interactions of first-layer textiles with the skin and outer garments. The Hohenstein scientists are pursuing new approaches relating to neurophysiological product perceptions of textiles by the consumer. According to Prof. Dr. Dirk Höfer, department head at the Hohenstein Institute, “We want to understand how direct body-contact clothing is accepted by the wearer and how it influences him or her. We are capturing this data in a research project by using state-of-the-art neurophysiological methods which have their origins in neuromarketing.”
The scientists have also incorporated validated test systems for optimum textile sweat odor management into the project; a test track was developed to evaluate sweat build-up quantitatively through specially marked sweat odor molecules and qualitatively by trained panelists. This enables a clear ranking of first-level textiles with a view to the intensity of sweat odor development in comparison to customary products available on the market. The partners
are pursuing a special functional approach for effective sweat management which both
reduces the creation of a sweat odor, and also inactivates the odor molecules in such a way that they can no longer be perceived by the nose, incorporating the best possible skin-friendly properties.
For sports undergarments, the primary focus is on wear comfort and optimum sweat
management through the first-layer textiles. In this context the emphasis is on the
performance of the wearer, which the textiles must at best support, and not negatively
influence at all. This cooperative project has introduced the specialists to a new market and brand environment that requires a discriminating handling of seamless laundry
items, since the requirements profile of the products is fundamentally different, with
the exception of optimum wear comfort. “We are looking forward to working together
with the Hohenstein Institute, and expect from this venture into a new specialist area to
gain valuable feedback results for our sportswear line,” said Leif Heppner, managing
director of Pro Feet Functional Wear GmbH.