What Under Armour and Celanese Corporation claim to set Neolast apart is its commitment to sustainability, addressing concerns related to elastane – commonly known as spandex – recyclability.

An essential aspect of Neolast is its use of recyclable elastoester polymers in production—a “critical” step for the industry to address the recycling challenges posed by blended fabrics containing elastane, according to Under Armour.

These fibres are manufactured using a proprietary solvent-free melt-extrusion process, which is said to eliminate potentially hazardous chemicals typically associated with elastane-based stretch fabrics.

Beyond its sustainability benefits, Neolast fibres claim to offer increased production precision, enabling spinners to adjust power-stretch levels and engineer fibres to meet a broader array of fabric specifications.

Both companies believe Neolast presents the apparel industry with an innovative solution that may unlock the potential for recycling performance stretch fabrics—a challenge that has persisted in the pursuit of circular manufacturing for stretch fabrics.

Tom Kelly, senior vice president of engineered materials at Celanese commented on the collaboration and said: “Celanese is proud to bring its polymer expertise and technical know-how to help manufacture Neolast fibres for textiles and fabrics to meet the specific needs of our customers and other value chain partners.”

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The newly developed Neolast fibres are believed to offer powerful stretch, durability, comfort, and improved moisture-wicking properties.

Kyle Blakely, senior vice president of innovation at Under Armour added: “This new Neolast fibre represents a transformative innovation for Under Armour and the textile industry.

“Through performance-driven sustainability and innovation, we look forward to helping athletes play at the top of their game as we work with Celanese to realise this new fibre’s potential to forge a path toward circularity.” 

Celanese intends to explore application opportunities with Under Armour while making Neolast available to the broader apparel industry, potentially reducing its dependence on elastane.

In December, Under Armour partnered with James Heal, a precision testing solutions supplier, to make fibre-shed test methods accessible to the broader industry and address the growing threat of microfibers and microplastics.