The latest in apparel materials.
First came polyester. Then Lycra. Then Gore-Tex. Now there are new fibers and materials finally making their way into clothing thanks to a renewed interest in material technology by both major brands and small start-ups.
PALO ALTO, United States — When Patagonia was in search of an eco-conscious alternative to neoprene, it considered wool. But then the outdoor apparel company came across Yulex, an Arizona-based supplier of latex-free rubber. Though the start-up was primarily focused on the commodities market, it had the tools to develop wetsuits that rivalled the performance, insulation capacity, stretch and durability of those made with traditional neoprene, but were better for the environment. Over a four-year period, Patagonia shouldered the costs of product development and guided Yulex on the needs of its consumers. By the end of 2013, the unlikely pair launched a plant-based wetsuit, using a desert shrub native to North America, on Patagonia’s website and in a limited number of surf shops. Shortly thereafter, the license was opened to the rest of the market.
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