Polartec has officially launched Polartec Power Air, a fabric technology engineered to reduce fiber shedding. By encapsulating lofted fibers within a multilayer, continuous yarn fabric construction, the new platform offers advanced thermal efficiency that sheds 5x less than other premium “mid-layer” weight fabrics, said Polartec.
Initially for apparel, Polartec Power Air technology was publicly unveiled by Polartec CEO Gary Smith on November 29, at Performance Days in Munich Germany. The Polartec Power Air Hoody is now available from Adidas, with more brands including Houdini and Mammut set to release their own offerings in the coming months.
Insulation that effectively regulates core body temperature has traditionally been achieved via lofted or high-pile knit structures that hold warm air, explained Polartec. Polartec recognized that any exposed fiber is susceptible to shedding as a function of normal wear. The Polartec Power Air construction process mitigates this by encasing the insulating lofted fibers within the knitting process.
“By using the efficiency of encapsulated air to shelter lofted fibers, Polartec Power Air will drastically improve how fabrics perform over their lifetime with respect to versatility, comfort, and sustainability,” said Smith. “We’re only beginning to realize the potential for this new type of fabric construction.”
While creating a more environmentally sound construction was the initial inspiration for Power Air, the innovation also enables greater design versatility, with distinctive visual signatures, said the company. The initial release features an internal grid structure on one side not unlike “fabric bubble wrap,” which simultaneously holds air and increases breathability, while the other side features a smooth, durable outer surface that resists pilling and minimizes drag.
As the first fabric construction to encase air with a continuous yarn, Polartec Power Air is a foundational technology platform that will eventually provide shedding reduction to all existing apparel categories (including insulation, lightweight next to skin, and extreme weather protection).
“Polartec has never shied away from solving tough, intractable problems,” says Mike Rose, Polartec VP of Product Development. “Power Air has the potential to be our most significant development since pioneering the process to knit fabrics made of post-consumer plastic bottles.”
Power Air is the latest product of Polartec Eco-engineering, a process by which Polartec deploys recycled inputs, advanced production techniques, efficient logistics and rigorous testing and certifications to create an innovation pipeline devoted to producing sustainable fabrics with elite performance characteristics. For Polartec Power Air, a whole new testing protocol had to be invented to measure shedding due to home laundering. The protocol simulates dozens of launderings in a single cycle to capture any microfibers lost in a lifetime of use. The test then determines the percentage of weight loss due to shedding.
“Polartec Power Air is more than solving a problem and creating a new platform,” said Smith. “It’s a brand statement about the power of fabric.”