For many of us, the desire to be outdoors and active doesn’t stop when the seasons change. Therefore, many consumers are starting to demand more from the performance of their activewear, extending beyond just moisture management and odor resistance.
What the Research Shows
According to research from Cotton Incorporated, 45 percent of consumers would purchase activewear with some sort of thermal regulating properties, but these products only represent less than five percent of retail offerings. Additionally, 94 percent of consumers would choose cotton activewear over synthetic activewear, if cotton could regulate temperature; and 65 percent say they would pay more for cotton activewear that could regulate temperature.
Engineering Cotton for Perfect Winter Wear
Meanwhile, cotton continues to prove itself as a reliable and protective yet comfortable fabric, especially when the seasons bring colder weather. Specifically, there are two cotton fabric constructions that can be engineered to provide consumers optimal warmth and cold-weather protection – the single knit jacquard blister (including SK-2154-2, SK-2101-1, and SK-1983-1) and the double knit spacer (including DK-2747-1L and DK-2728-14).
Both fabrics offer multiple benefits to winter-weather wearers, combined with comfort and ease of care. Here are the top five reasons why these cotton fabrics “win in winter” and can benefit any consumer’s cold-weather wardrobe.
1. Reduced Air Flow
Air permeability describes the amount of air that flows through a particular fabric. If a fabric is less air permeable, then less air will penetrate the garment, keeping the wearer warmer. Both the single knit jacquard blister and the double knit spacer have very low values for air permeability.
In fact, the single knit jacquard blister allows significantly less air to penetrate, when compared to fleece fabrics. The double knit spacer has five times less air permeability than synthetic fleece due to its two layers of spacer fabric, which are designed to insulate the body and maintain warmth.
2. Thermal Regulation
Thermal resistance, or the resistance to heat transfer which keeps heat between the fabric and the skin or base layer, is another huge contributor to a garment’s ability to keep the wearer warm. Folds and grooves in the single knit jacquard blister fabric prevent heat transfer and deliver superior thermal resistance when compared to fleece.
Similarly, the double knit spacer offers warmth due to its ability to create and protect a microclimate of thermal resistance and warmth around the wearer’s body.
3. Advanced Performance
Both the single knit jacquard blister and double knit spacer fabrics can be further enhanced with topical finishes, coatings, or laminated layers to create superior moisture management and water repellency. Moisture management and water repellency are added benefits for any winter wardrobe selections, especially when considering wet wintery conditions such as sleet, snow, and ice.
4. Optimal Comfort
Both the single knit jacquard blister and double knit spacer fabrics can be further enhanced with topical finishes, coatings, or laminated layers to create superior moisture management and water repellency.
Moisture management and water repellency are added benefits for any winter wardrobe selections, especially when considering wet wintery conditions such as sleet, snow, and ice.
5. Easy Care and Machine Washable
Cotton, in general, is easier to wash and care for than other fabrics, with no dry cleaning required (learn more here). The same rings true for both the single knit jacquard blister and double knit spacer fabrics, which are machine washable and wash clean after use.
More Cotton Knit Fabrics that Win for Winter Activewear
In addition to the single knit jacquard blister and the double knit spacer fabrics, there are several more knit fabric offerings from cotton’s 2022 and 2023 collections that are ideal for comfort and protection in activewear and the athleisure market during the winter months. These include:
- Mini-Ottomans (DK-2854-1, 1B, 2 & 3): This range of mini-jacquard double knit constructions features a fine horizontal textured rib on the face and a smooth surfaced back. The fabrics were brushed on the back for added softness and warmth and finished with non-fluorine STORM COTTON™
- Cotton/Wool Fleeces (SK-2198-1, 2, 3 & 4): A cotton ground with a blend of cotton and wool in the loop provides the foundational structure for these textural jacquard fleeces and inlay jacquards. Napped to provide additional warmth and softness, these fabrics would work well as tops and bottoms for the active and athleisure markets.
- Tuck Mesh and Double Face (DK-2844-1, 2, 3, 4 & DK-2848-1): This winter cotton collection features dual sided, double knit constructions enhanced with mechanical sueding and STORM COTTON™ Technology. There are two categories within this performance grouping: 100 percent cotton textures intended for base or mid layer apparel, and cotton/spandex blends for shells, jackets and pullovers, with all fabrics featuring an athletic inspired textural face contrasted by a warm sueded inside. The addition of spandex offers comfort stretch and a higher stitch density reducing air permeability for more protection in cool and breezy weather.
- Double Face Technical Knits (DK-2842-3 & 4): Both functional and fashionable, the two double knit constructions in this group are dual sided and connected with a fine monofilament yarn. These double-sided knits have an all-cotton back to be worn against the skin for comfort and nylon, or a combination of cotton and nylon, on the face for a technical look and feel. Spandex is plated to both sides of the fabric to provide stretch and density. These tightly constructed fabrics were finished with STORM COTTON™ Technology to shield the wearer from the outdoor elements.
When It’s Cold, Choose Cotton
At Cotton Incorporated, we pride ourselves on pushing cotton to the limit so that brands and consumers get the most out of their cotton fabric products and apparel. Therefore, it’s no surprise that cotton offers multiple benefits for winter apparel, especially as consumers are demanding more and more from their winter activewear.
Cotton Incorporated’s single knit jacquard blister and the double knit spacer fabrics, plus a diverse collection of other knit fabric offerings ideal for the activewear and athleisure markets, not only offer reduced air permeability and exceptional thermal resistance, but also possess the signature natural comfort of cotton. This comfort can be further enhanced for moisture management and water repellency with Cotton Incorporated’s performance technologies, and are easy to wash and clean. With all of these benefits to enjoy during the cold winter months, cotton activewear wearers can look forward to a much warmer, drier, and more comfortable season.
Cotton: Engineered to Insulate – CottonWorks.com