Polartec Power Air features an internal grid structure on one side not unlike ‘fabric bubble wrap’ which holds air and increases breathability

Polartec Power Air features an internal grid structure on one side not unlike ‘fabric bubble wrap’ which holds air and increases breathability

Fleece maker Polartec has developed what it claims is the first fabric technology engineered to reduce fibre shedding.

Its new Polartec Power Air encapsulates lofted fibres within a multilayer, continuous yarn fabric construction, offering advanced thermal efficiency that sheds five times less than other premium 'mid-layer' weight fabrics, the company says.

Insulation that effectively regulates core body temperature has traditionally been achieved via lofted or high-pile knit structures that hold warm air. But any exposed fibres are susceptible to shedding as a function of normal wear. Instead, the Polartec Power Air construction process mitigates this by encasing the insulating lofted fibres within the knitting process.

"By using the efficiency of encapsulated air to shelter lofted fibres, Polartec Power Air will drastically improve how fabrics perform over their lifetime with respect to versatility, comfort, and sustainability," says Gary Smith, Polartec CEO. "We're only beginning to realise the potential for this new type of fabric construction."

While creating a more environmentally sound construction was the initial inspiration for the new fabric, the innovation also enables greater design versatility, with distinctive visual signatures.

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 minimises drag.

The innovation 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, the company says. 

"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 – the process by which Polartec deploys recycled inputs, advanced production techniques, highly efficient logistics, and rigorous testing and certifications to create an innovation pipeline devoted to producing sustainable fabrics with elite performance characteristics.

It required a whole new testing protocol to be invented to measure shedding due to home laundering, the company explains. The protocol simulates dozens of launderings in a single cycle to accurately capture any microfibres lost in a lifetime of use. The test then accurately determines the percentage of weight loss due to shedding.