Raw Materials of Sportswear Textiles: Characteristics and Types

Sportswear: Properties, Functions, Types and Raw Materials

Sinha Islam Ayon
Dept. of Textile Engineering,
BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology
Email: sinhaislamayon@gmail.com


Sportswear refers to clothing that has been designed especially for sports purposes. It is also called sports textile or sporttech. The textiles that are used in sports in any form are called as sporttech. Sportswear or active wear is clothing including footwear, worn for sports and physical exercise. Nowadays sophisticated technologies are used in technical textiles to produce sportswear. The light weight and safety features of sport tech have become important in their substitution for other materials.

The applications are diverse and range from artificial turf (e. g. in hockey) used in sports surfaces through to advanced carbon fiber composites for racquet frames, fishing rods, golf clubs and cycle frames. Other uses are balloon fabrics, parachute and paraglider fabrics and sailcloth. The demand for sportech is increasing day by day due to the increase of leisure time, people showing interest in health-related activities, increased women participation in sports, increased accessibility and availability of sports such as skiing, golf and sailing and the growth of sports facilities.

Recently the fabrics equipped with sensors have been developed which give complete physiological monitoring of the body during the exercise. The fabrics have also been developed with phase change materials which give cooling effect during sports in summer. The New Zealand cricket team wears black kit during sports which provides discomfort as the black color absorbs light and becomes heated. To avoid the heating and to achieve cooling effect, the phase change materials have been incorporated in the fabric for making the sporting kits.


  • To know about the raw materials use to produce sportswear.
  • To know about the functions of sportswear.
  • To know about the properties of the sportswear.
  • To know about different types of sportswear.
  • To know about other characteristics of sportswear.

Function of Sportswear:

  1. Anti-Static performance
  2. Heat transport function
  3. Ultraviolet performance
  4. Moisture transport performance
  5. Anti-Microbial performance

Properties of Sportswear:

  • Resilience
  • Absorptiveness
  • Air permeability
  • Lightweight
  • Stress and strain
  • Easy care
  • Strength
  • Durability
  • Tailorability
  • Formability

Characteristics for Sportswear on Clothing Comfort:
Expected characteristics for sportswear on clothing comfort are:

  1. Efficiently moving away sweat from the skin,
  2. Quick drying,
  3. Breathability,
  4. Balancing body heat by moving away moisture and ventilating body’s critical heat areas,
  5. Not charging electrostatically,
  6. Having high strength and abrasion resistance,
  7. Not limiting body movements,
  8. Being soft and durable,
  9. Stitches not causing discomfort,
  10. Having a good handle,
  11. Having an aesthetic appearance,
  12. Improving mental motivation,
  13. Providing easy care,
  14. Occupying a small place and being light, for both wearing while working out and carrying around.

Factors for Designing Sportswear:

  1. Comfort
  2. Protection / Safety
  3. Decoration / Fashion ability
  4. Costing
  5. Availability of related materials
  6. Medically fit and hygiene
  7. No medical effect on human body

Raw Materials for Sports Textiles:

Fiber used in sportswear textiles
There are different kinds of fabrics, knitted, woven and non-woven are used in sportswear. But polyester is a common type of material used in sportswear. It is basically cloth made out of plastic fibbers making it light-weight, wrinkle-free, long lasting and breathable and comfortable.

  • Natural fiber: Cotton, wool ,silk etc.
  • Synthetic fiber: Polyester, polyamide, polypropylene, acrylic, Nylon, spandex etc.
  • Special synthetic fiber: Micro fiber, carbon fiber, Dacron, lycra roica, Leofeel etc.
  • Modified synthetic fiber: The fiber which is produced by gel spinning, bicomponent spinning, micro fiber spinning.
  • High performance fiber: Aramid fiber, Novoloid fiber, PPS fiber, PCM fiber, Kevlar etc.

Fabrics used for sportswear

Tricot Fabric
Tricot fabrics are produced on a flatbed knitting machine. They have an excellent wrinkle and run resistance as well as good drape-ability. Tricot fabric has a unique zigzag weave that is textured on one side and smooth on the other. So, this allows the fabric to be soft and also very sturdy.

Tricot fabric
Fig: Tricot fabric

Quilted Fabric
Actually, quilted fabrics are layered materials consisting of two cloths that encase a filling and are stitched together to form a puffy unit. Good quilted fabrics for outdoor use should be wind-resistant for greater protection. This fabric also use for producing sportswear.

Quilted fabric
Fig: Quilted fabric

Mesh Fabric
Mesh is beneficial in sportswear as it gives good comfort and stretch and also allows air to circulate and reach the skin meaning that it is ideal for ventilation areas of a garment, especially for places where heat accumulates very quickly such as on the back.

Mesh fabric
Fig: Mesh fabric

Fleece Fabric
Fleece fabrics are used in sportswear often for tracksuits, hoodies and zip tops. The fabric does not fray making it so easy to sew (Unless it is extremely thick) and the grain line runs parallel to the selvedge.

Fleece Fabric
Fig: Fleece Fabric

Micro Fiber Fabric
Micro fiber fabrics are essentially fabrics made from extremely fine usually; microfiber fabrics are made from polyesters, polyamides or polypropylenes. They are made from man made fibers because they are so small that natural fibers cannot be small like them. Microfiber fabrics make useful luxury sport fabrics due to their brilliant properties including being lightweight, having a luxurious drape and are breathable whilst still being resistant to rain and wind.

Micro fibre fabric
Fig: Micro fibre fabric

3-Layer Softshell Fabric
Softshell straightly means “soft shell” and indicates a category of technical fabrics designed to ensure maximum comfort in situations of variable weather. The quality of a softshell product, are water repellency, wind resistance and breathability. The 3- layer softshell has been created for use in outdoor winter sportswear, such as skiing and hiking.

3-layer softshell fabric
Fig: 3-layer softshell fabric

2.5- Layer Coated Fabric
2.5-layer fabrics have light (dot) coating protecting membrane. This fabric also use for different types of producing sportswear.

2.5- layer coated fabric
Fig: 2.5- layer coated fabric

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Different Types of Sportswear:
There are different types of sports all over the world. So, different types of sportswear use for different types of sports. Some common types of sportswear are given below:

Auto Racing Wear
Helmets are very necessary item for auto racing and it should be comfortable. It should have soft padded inside to save the head from impact by breaking and cushioning the fall. Helmets should also have aeration capabilities to avoid profuse sweating at the time of sport. The racing suits should be comfortable.

Auto Racing Wear
Fig: Auto Racing Wear

Football Wear
Football is the most popular game all over the world. Football wear should be flexible, air permeable, and comfortable. Players should be feeling easy and flexible.

Football wear
Fig: Football wear

Cycling Wear
Cycling wear is another simple and it should not be baggy at all. It should be flexible either because movement is going to be very hard. Apparel should be fitting and should not clam to the skin at all. Cycler should feel fresh and uncomfortable because of the rising body temperature.

Cycling wear
Fig: Cycling wear

Instead, the wear should be light and be able to reduce body heat by providing cooling. Helmets are mandatory for skull protection.

Tennis Wear
Actually, tennis is an intense sport and attention and alertness is very important for the players. That’s why a tennis viser is part of the tennis wear. The viser protects the players’ eyes from direct sunlight and the same time not blocking his or her view. For men, they get to wear shorts, a t-shirt and shoes. Women have a variety of tennis wear like a tank top and shorts.

Tennis Wear
Fig: Tennis Wear

Baseball Wear
Actually, Baseball wear consists of shoes or cleats, gloves and pro combat gear. The cleats have to be baseball issued so that the player can be able to move with speed. As much as the pro- combat is fitting, it has to be comfortable and not stick to the similarly. A fielding glove is also important and it should be long lasting because of the constant use.

Baseball Wear
Fig: Baseball Wear

Basketball Wear
Basketball players move around the court very much. That’s why the surface of the court can be slippery thus the wrong type of shoes can cause fatalities. Standard basketball shoe wear should have proper grip and the standard shoes are court shoes. The foot should be firmly and comfortably support so that the game process can be easy. Fabric for the shorts and t-shirts should be breathable, comfortable and air permeable. It should not accommodate sweat but in turn let it out.

basketball wear
Fig: Basketball wear

Yoga Wear
Actually, Yoga is a flexible sport. Those who are enthusiasts choose wear that will not inhibit them from moving comfortably. It involves a lot of posture changing and that means stretching is part of the sport. That is why women decide to wear shorts and capris that stretch and are able to expand.

Yoga wear
Fig: Yoga wear

Ice Hockey Wear
Ice hockey is an interesting sport. This is the reason why protective gear is very important. The gear should be able to shield the shoulder area, the players chin and neck. So other than a mouth guard, shoulder pads, mouth guards and helmets are very important because every part of the body is always impacted during the game.

Ice hockey wear
Fig: Ice hockey wear

Martial Arts Wear
There is wide range of martial arts clothing available in the market suitable for karate, judo, kick boxing, kung Fu. So when buying the clothing it is good to know the specific martial arts sport. The protective gear like hand wraps, knee guards, and groin guards are important for martial arts.

Martial arts wear
Fig: Martial arts wear

Swimming Suit
A swimwear also known as bathing suit is a type of clothing worn by men or women in water- based activities like swimming, diving and surfing. Men wear shorts and Speedos but women have a variety of swimwear. Some women prefer bikinis it all depends on preference. Professional swimwear wears buoyant wetsuit.

Swimming suit
Fig: Swimming suit

Modification of Fabric Used in Sportswear:

  • By making multi layered fabric.
  • By improving finishing technology.
  • By using microfibers.
  • By Laminating technology.
  • By making conditions.
  • By structurally fit.
  • By setting fastness to wash, color and light.
  • By resisting physio mechanical properties.

Sewing of Sportswear:
Sewing is most popular for joining fabric of sportswear. Alternative method of joining can be used but performance result is not good.

Microtex sewing needle having size Nm 60 to 90.

Sewing thread
Nylon can be used. But polyester is best.

Sewing after care
After care is done by using seam sealer or seam sealing tape.

List of Top Manufacturing Brand of Sportswear:

  1. Nike
  2. Adidas
  3. Salomon
  4. Fila
  5. Sky Sports
  6. ESPN
  7. Under Armour
  8. Puma
  9. ASICS
  10. UFC
  11. MLB
  12. Reebok
  13. Rapha
  14. Wilson
  15. Brooks sports.

Sports fabrics are technical materials which help to keep the wearer comfortable at the time of sports. There are different types of sportswear use in different sports. But most of the case sportswear needs some special characteristics, properties and function for better performance. So it’s very necessary to maintain the proper quality to produce sportswear.


  1. Materials and Technology for Sportswear and Performance Apparel Edited by Steven George Hayes, Praburaj Venkatraman
  2. Textiles for Sportswear Edited by Roshan Shishoo
  3. Textile Engineering – An Introduction Edited by Yasir Nawab
  4. High Performance Apparel: Materials, Development and Applications Edited by John McLoughlin and Tasneem Sabir
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sportswear
  6. https://lsponline.ca/2019/01/08/what-are-the-types-of-material-used-to-make-sportswear/
  7. https://www.midwestworld.com/what-fabric-is-best-for-sportswear/

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  2. Military Textiles: Features, Characteristics and Materials
  3. Kevlar Fiber: Types, Properties, Manufacturing Process and Applications
  4. Aramid Fibers: Types, Properties, Manufacturing Process and Applications
  5. Application of High Performance Fibers for Special Purposes
  6. High Performance Polyethylene Fibers – An Overview
  7. Comparison of Normal Fibers and High Performance Fibers
  8. Anti Ballistic Fabric: Materials, Protection, Properties and Application
  9. Carbon Fiber: Its Manufacturing Process and Uses
  10. Ballistic Protective Textiles – An Overview
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  12. Camouflage Fabrics: Manufacturing and Applications in Defense Textiles

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