Performance fibers and fabrics were thetalk of the town at the recent Super Show, which took place Feb. 12-15 in Atlanta, GA.From extreme sports apparel to everyday sportswear, a melding of high-tech and fashiondominated many apparel lines, targeting consumers' increasing desire for"crossover" dressing.

As Haysun Audrey Hahn, director of Bureaude Style Inc., explained, "The active sports industry has been very influential onother sectors. … We no longer perceive active clothing as separate from sportswearand jeans wear. It's all integrated. … There is a new level of high design andhigh performance, and this has pushed technical fabrications to a new level."

"Intelligent fabrics," as Hahndescribed them at one of the show's seminars, are showing up in garments at all pricepoints, and "many designers, such as Prada, are using technical fabrications,"she said. "Even simple things like turtlenecks are not enough in just cotton or silk.People are no longer interested in natural fiber." Moreover, she added, "Stretch[fabrics] have revolutionized fashion."

At the show, which did not release attendeenumbers this year, there was a stir of excitement over new developments in fibers andfabrics, which spanned the spectrum from enhanced moisture management constructions to newenergizing ceramic technology. A few of the most noteworthy finds follow.

DuPont made a splash with the introductionof CoolMax Alta™ spun polyester and microdenier filament fabrics. Combining moisturemanagement with pill resistance, the new fabrics are targeting markets including golf,tennis, intimate apparel and ready-to-wear. Development of CoolMax Alta has taken placeover the past two years with the assistance of Duofold, a leading manufacturer ofperformance base layer apparel. The company worked with DuPont's development yarns toknit, finish and test the fabrics.

Holofiber™ also made news with theintroduction of Holofiber resonant fabric, which the company claims to be effective inenhancing athletic performance and recovery. Based on Japanese ceramic technology that wasintroduced more than 50 years ago, Holofiber works under the principles of quantummechanics. The ceramic material used in the fabric resonates at the same frequency thatwater molecules spin. This action activates individual water molecules in the body and, inturn, helps the body to function more efficiently. Measurable results have shown that thefabric increases body temperature, which indicates increased blood circulation, andescalates alpha wave activity, which indicates a peak state of concentration.

Invented by David Horineck, a Bevery Hills,CA, health salon owner, and acupuncturist Robert Kline, Holofiber uses a proprietarytechnology that "liquefies" the ceramic so that it can be woven with fibers. Asa result, the ceramic material retains its molecular activating effects, while the fabricsretain their natural hand. The company currently is developing a line of active sportswearwith the fabrics and also is looking to incorporate it in other garments, includingpajamas and hosiery.

Baseball also got a high-tech boost at theshow with the introduction of Wilson Sporting Goods Co.'s new Ultra Flex baseballuniform fabric, which combines full four-way dimensional stretch in a durable - yetcomfortable - moisture management construction.

"Traditional baseball fabrics arepolyester warp knit, and they have about 50 percent stretch in one direction and 20percent in the other," explained Kevin McTernan, vice president/business director,Team Sports Apparel. "Our new fabric has fantastic stretch in both the length and thewidth. Also, it has a great moisture management system that pulls moisture away from thebody and lets it disperse and evaporate."

The proprietary 17 ½-ounce, 100 percentpolyester fabric, which was developed over the past two years in conjunction with a majortextile mill, currently is being used by several professional baseball teams. "Wealso are looking to bring it down to 15 ounces and are planning to offer it in our stockdepartment at a high price point," McTernan added.

Lisa C. Rabon