Clothiers bet on ‘cooling’ fabrics as global temperatures rise

Clothiers bet on ‘cooling’ fabrics as global temperatures rise


Reuters API

Retailers such as Macy’sColumbia


Other major companies, including VF Corp and PermiraReformationTencelLenzing

The push comes as clothing retailers, whose sales dipped as inflation-weary consumers prioritized essentials over discretionary purchases, amp up their marketing of “cooling” garments as heat waves batter at least three continents.

Apparel manufacturers and sellers are banking on lightweight materials and performance fabrics aimed at offering more relief than traditional cotton and polyester knits, as well as high-tech fibers they say offer wearers “active” cooling.

Many such textiles have been used for years, especially in athletic clothing from brands such as Lululemon, according to Jess Ramirez

Macy’s officials told Reuters its newest line includes a $150 trench coat made with lyocell and $24.50 tees made with modal — two silky fibers produced from wood pulp that textile experts say are lightweight and breathable.

The department store chain is expanding such inventory and will market some of those items as “breathable” and “cooling,” Macy’s Senior Vice President of Private

Women’s brand Reformation in June began selling new skirts, bottoms and dresses with Tencel, which the company calls “foundational” to its products.

Few retail market firms track specific sales of “cooling” clothes, but related fabric manufacturing is rising.

Tencel-maker Lenzing expanded production with a Thailand facility last year, its senior business development manager SharonPatagonia

Overall, global production of cellulose-based fibers including lyocell, modal and cupro grew more than 10% to 7.2 million tons in 2022, according to the nonprofit Textile Exchange

PT Golden Tekstil, an Indonesian mill whose clients include Macy’s, PVHRalph Lauren

Still, it also remains unclear whether materials marketed as cooling can lower body temperature or simply help wearers feel more comfortable.

Textile industry groups have developed tests to assess cooling, mostly by measuring a fabric’s ability to distribute moisture and dry out quickly as a proxy, according to the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists.

But no specific tests are required before companies can make cooling claims, and not all lab findings necessarily translate to actual use, said Roger Barker, who studies textiles at North Carolina State University.


Companies are also producing more garments with performance fabrics such as Lycra

Fast RetailingUniqlo

Kirsty Wilson

J. Crew and H&M


While sweat-wicking clothes can speed up the evaporation of sweat from the body, which is how humans naturally stay cool, there is a limit to how much relief such passive cooling provides, said Barker, who heads North Carolina’s Textile Protection and Comfort Center.

This summer, Columbia Sportswear released a new sweatshirt with its updated Omni-Freeze Zero Ice fabric, combining “active” technology with wicking properties and a print it says absorbs sweat.

Creating new styles for hot environments will “remain an area of focus,” Haskhell Beckham, the company’s vice president for innovation, told Reuters.

Other retailers have turned to similar fabrics, including those from Atlanta-based textile manufacturer brrr that embed cooling minerals.

Brrr works with 47 brands — including Adidas

While many garments with brrr fabrics target hot summers, there’s growing demand for modified base layers and cold-weather clothing as more shoppers experience unseasonably warm winters, Brown added.

“If you’re out walking or hiking or skiing, a lot of people want that cooling effect, even in wintertime,” she said.

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