Demand for apparel with stain protective properties is surging as consumers increasingly rely on clothes which offer easy-care and convenience. Indeed, according to a new report it is forecast that the percentage of apparel with performance enhancing treatments will double in the next few years.

Stain protection is one of the fastest growing categories in performance enhancing treatments according to Performance Apparel Markets, published by Textiles Intelligence.

It is set to become a standard performance feature of garments for everyday wear, such as shirts and trousers, because of the convenience it provides for consumers with busy lifestyles.

Like wrinkle resistance, stain protection is no longer considered a novelty, and it has been predicted that consumers will choose stain protection in their clothing as routinely as they now choose fabrics, colours and styles.
 
Significant impact
Although stain protection technologies have been around for around 40 years, it is only in the past five years that they have made a significant impact in the marketplace. The latest additions to such care technologies are dual-action products which offer stain repellency and stain release, and such products are proving to be highly popular.
 
At one time the applications for stain protective apparel were confined to workwear and uniforms worn in environments where spillage and staining are prevalent. But in recent years their use has expanded considerably, especially in casual wear.
 
A number of big apparel names, including Eddie Bauer, Lee Jeans and Dockers, have been offering casual trousers which are stain repellent. Sales of these trousers, which have been heavily promoted through television advertisements, are reported to be doing extremely well.

This has prompted a growing number of apparel suppliers to add stain repellent items to their clothing lines. Those already offering stain repellent items have been incorporating a greater number of such clothes to their ranges.
 
Self-cleaning clothes
Textile researchers have been exploring ways of creating the ultimate in stain protective apparel: self-cleaning clothes. These would benefit the environment as well as the consumer.

Because they would not require conventional laundering, they would avoid the problem of river pollution caused by waste water from washing machines. However, it is likely to take some years before self-cleaning clothes reach the mass consumer market.
 
In the meantime, research in the field of stain protection in apparel is likely to focus on ways of developing environmentally friendly alternatives to the chemicals used in many stain protection technologies today.
 
Stain protection is one of several easy-care fabric finishes - such as wrinkle resistance - which have also struck a chord with time-starved consumers who want to wear clothing requiring the minimum of care.

Such technological advances enable companies to greatly differentiate their apparel lines. And this has helped them to boost volumes and achieve premium prices in a market environment characterised by fierce competition and rampant price deflation.

Stain protection and other easy-care fabric finishes will play an important role in boosting the value which consumers place on clothing, according to Performance Apparel Markets.

Indeed, it is forecast that the percentage of apparel with performance enhancing treatments will double in the next few years.
 
Performance Apparel Markets is a quarterly publication from Textiles Intelligence.