I’d never really thought about it until we started to design our own garments, but there’s a hell of a lot of rubbish spouted by people who should know better about the qualities of the garments we are sold. The word ‘technical’ is widely used to describe a material or garment, but doesn’t really mean a thing. After all, if it’s used to mean that a material has special properties, then isn’t that anything? As I type, I can see a very technical material just to my left – totally waterproof and windproof. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you….the bin bag.
It’s not really helpful to know that the item I’m considering buying is ‘technical’, because the supposed high-performance properties this implies might not actually be the ones I’m looking for. Have you noticed that every running shirt you look at is both breathable and wicking? And have you ever considered that these desirable properties might actually be mutually exclusive, or that a trade off between the two is needed?
Running Guy (sorry for the plug) genuinely make shirts that are breathable and wicking, and perform well at both. We do this by using panels which are designed to wick sweat efficiently. When they are wicking sweat, there is little room left in the material for air to travel through, so not great at breathing. We get great breathability through separate mesh panels positioned where this attribute is appropriate and most needed – those big holes in the material don’t facilitate wicking.
How is it then, that a garment made out of a single material can do both? The answer probably is that they do one rather better than the other, or do both to a lesser standard than a material actually designed for one attribute. But it’s OK, because they’re ‘technical’.
So enough of this ‘technical fabric’ rubbish. Tell us honestly what each garment actually does, and then we can actually buy what we need, not what some marketing department thinks sounds good.
[…..steps off his soap box, and goes for what could technically be described as ‘beer’…….]