What Makes Kinetic Stretchy and Resilient
The Kinetic fabric is one of our favorites - it’s moisture wicking, wrinkle resistant, incredibly stretchy and resilient. But stretch and resilience don’t always go hand-in-hand - we’re all all too familiar with t-shirts, chinos and jeans that stretch out and lose their shape after wear leaving baggy knees and an inconsistent fit from wear to wear. Here’s our innovative approach to creating a fabric with crisp structure, with un-restricting stretch.
Early Approaches to Stretch
Initially stretch was incorporated into fabrics through what is known as “mechanical stretch”, an inherent give in a fabric that was a function of its weave or knit construction.
Knits Fabrics: Found in T-shirts and garments like our Apollo shirts are quite stretchy inherently because of their loose structure
Woven Fabrics: Found in shirting and suiting stretch diagonally, known as “bias stretch” but generally don’t stretch horizontally or vertically
Spandex - A Revolution in Stretch
Elastane, or as it’s commonly known as - “Spandex”; was developed about 60 years ago and has fueled the ability to have woven and knit fabrics that stretch and pull back significantly, unlocking stretch shirting, base layers, bike shorts and much more. Fun fact, spandex is an anagram of “expands”. Thanks Wikipedia.
A little bit of spandex goes a long way. We use 2%-6% spandex by weight in our Aero shirting and it’s enough for a more crisp, structured garment.
Think of the concept behind a battery losing its charging capacity - the more charge cycles you go through, the more you discharge your battery each time. This is similar to the challenge with spandex. After several hundred stretch cycles, spandex loses it's ability to exert enough force to bounce back to it's original shape.
Additionally, the chemistry in spandex is particularly susceptible to chlorine - typically found in bleach and pools, leading to degradation of the fiber.
Spring-like Stretch - A Mechanical Inspiration
The solution to this was inspired by one of the simplest mechanical devices - a spring. Springs rely on geometric structure (helix) over chemical structure to create stretch with great bounce-back known as “recovery”.
From our previous discussion on Kinetic’s Bio-Based Polyester, the fiber is a special construction called a “bi-component” fiber, that is made of two different types of polyester sandwiched side-by-side. When the yarn is extruded, it is hot, but as the filament fiber cools, the two different polyesters shrink at different rates causing the fiber to create a spiral-spring structure.
The result of this is that this fiber can stretchy significantly, hundreds of times with without losing it’s shape or structure
Warp Knit - Stretch and Structure as One
While traditional “Weft" knits are stretchy, they lack structure. Woven fabrics, typically chosen for shirting and suiting because of their crisp structure, lack the ability to stretch significantly.
Kinetic is made of a third construction technique that is called “Warp-Knitting”, which combines the stretch of weft knitting with the structure of woven fabric. The machines themselves are a cross between a knitting machine and a weaving loom. While it’s slightly slower than regular knitting and weaving, it results in a really durable, stretchy and resilient fabric.
The result of all of this is that Kinetic is a highly-engineered fabric that combines both yarn technology as well as premium knitting techniques to create a stretchy fabric with great shape retention during the day, between washes and for the life of the garment.