Teijin Fibers Limited has developed a new stain-resistant polyester fabric that it claims is the first in the world to combine moisture absorption and oil repellency. 

The Japanese company says the new material is a comfortable, stain-resistant fabric for all seasons, with end-uses including sportswear, uniforms, blouses and trousers - and will be available in time for spring and summer 2012 collections.

Innerwear in particular will benefit from its ability to absorb water and sweat, while repelling oil-based stains from sebum and cosmetics that can then be removed through washing.

By applying its special new nanotechnology coating on each individual fibre, rather than the whole fabric, Teijin says it has managed to retain a soft texture too.

The coating consists of separate hydrophilic and oil-repellent layers. When sweat or other moisture contacts the fabric, water is absorbed and spreads to the hydrophilic layer; whereas oil is repelled and can then be washed off.

Polyester is essentially hydrophobic, so it neither absorbs water nor repels oil-based grime.

Existing water-repellent and oil-repellent materials can present problems, such as loss of breathability and texture, because the coating is applied only to the top surface of the fabric, rather than each individual fibre.