PARIS — Athletes look for an edge to improve their performance, and now that quest has reached a new level — technologically advanced undies.
Several brands are in on the action. For example, Puma, the German activewear giant, outfitted all Jamaican and Moroccan female athletes at the Olympic Games in Beijing with pieces from its new bodywear range. French Taekwondo champion Gwladys Epangue was among the Olympic athletes outfitted in Adidas’ new Techfit innerwear range.
“Our aim is to give the athlete the possibility to enhance his or her performance, to give that extra X percent,” said Barbara Ebersberger, category manager for Adidas’ women’s training lines.
She said tests on designs from the brand’s women’s Techfit range for spring revealed an 8 percent increase in speed performance, as well as greater jumping heights, aided by strategically placed TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) “power bands” adapted to the female form. The straps come positioned in the triangle between the shoulder blades, say, or around the breasts, or line the legs of long shorts to cushion thigh muscles.
“The bands maximize power generation, support muscles and improve stability through compression; they hug the body,” explained Ebersberger, adding that the garments’ sweat zones are also conceived to keep athletes cool while reducing friction.
At Nike, “we are constantly in competition with ourselves to come up with new innovations that help athletes perform better,” said spokeswoman Kilee Hughes, adding that the brand, which tests its product on elite athletes as well as everyday consumers, uses its Revolution Inside technology in key pieces of women’s competition apparel. Female athletes dressed by Nike include Maria Sharapova, Kara Goucher, Kaitlin Sandeno and Jessica Mendoza.
This spring, Nike will introduce its Dri-FIT fabric Revolutionary Support Bra, to retail at $70. Using no-sew technology, the lightweight bra features a 360-degree exoskeleton for compressive support, along with adjustable motion control straps.
Spring will also see the launch of Puma’s performance bodywear range that splits into active and advanced groups. Compression technology, plays a central role in the line that’s made from antibacterial textile fibers containing sugar and silver particles, said Nina Wolf, Puma’s global director of accessories and licensing.
The race to dominate the sports innerwear sector is a multipronged assault with brands adapting lines to a broad spectrum of disciplines.
For spring, Adidas plans to launch a spin-off Techfit line, for example, geared to high-impact forms of yoga. “In terms of innovations, it is moving toward style as well as function,” said Julia Nolan, marketing manager of Britain’s Shock Absorber.
Known for its high-impact-friendly bras, Shock Absorber — official supplier to England’s national netball team — counts among its recent innovations gel-padded hooks and eyes for comfort when exercising lying down; lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics designed to draw moisture away from the body, and revolving clasps.
In the U.S., Champion holds the top spot for sports bra sales, a sector that generated $5.5 billion from June 2007 to May 2008, according to market research firm, The NPD Group.
Upping its visibility in the sports arena, last fall, Hanesbrands inked a deal that positioned Champion as the official activewear sponsor of the ESPN Sports Complex, formerly Disney’s Wide World of Sports, which included naming rights to the complex’s 9,500-seat Florida stadium. With more than 1.1 million visitors and an estimated 240,000 athletes attending events at the stadium each year, Champion has been testing fabrics, fit, technologies and garments on athletes who visit the complex.
For women not headed for running tracks, it’s features such as invisible support, femininity and comfort that count. “Most consumers are looking for comfort first,” said Nike’s Hughes. “The biggest problem to solve for the consumer is reducing motion and chafing.”
Nadine Hall, vice president and general manager for Champion, said, “Seamless technology is tremendously popular with women, so Champion continues to push the envelope in introducing new and innovative seamless products like our new spring ’09 Seamless Comfort Band sports bras.”
“The most significant change in demand is that women are participating in many different types of exercise so they want their innerwear to be as versatile as their workout,” said Hall.
Feminizing sports innerwear represents a key growth opportunity for brands, said Nicolas Deconninck, owner of the Paris-based women’s activewear chain Attractive. “Shock Absorber recently released a bra line with a Wonderbra-like push-up effect that has been extremely successful,” he said, adding that demand for sports lingerie in the store has risen about 15 percent in the last year. “Women are after glamorous [sports innerwear] with invisible support. Gyms are meeting places nowadays, and are filled with mirrors, so it’s only natural that they want to look good.”
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)