When we entered the world of “technical apparel,” the word “technical” was reserved for outerwear brands and consumers looking to run marathons, climb mountains, ski the alps…you get the idea. Now brands use technical to describe every category of apparel from active wear to sleepwear. Kit & Ace went so far as to trademark the term “Technical Luxury.” This makes for an extremely confusing shopping experience. What makes a product technical? And does it justify the high price tag? We’ve had this issue so often ourselves, we wanted to pull together some tips to help guide you through this “technical” world.
- By definition, a technical fabric should provide you with some sort of functional benefit. If you don’t see any benefit to you as the wearer, I would move along, you can find that item at a lesser price point in a different material.
- Make sure the functional benefit is actually applicable to your life. Many of the advances that were made in fabrics were born out of the necessity from our armed forces, astronauts, firefighters and police officers. Do you need a fire retardant button-up shirt? Maybe, but not likely.
- Always check the fabric content before you purchase a garment. If a company has labeled an item “Technical Cashmere Jacket” that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s 100% cashmere, and it’s more than likely not. I’ve seen brands that label items as “Technical Cashmere” that aren’t even more than 10% cashmere.
- On that note, there are some fabrics worth spending for if the content is high enough. Polyester is typically not one of them (because it tends to pill and can melt in the dryer.) If you see something that’s branded technical and it’s 100% Poly, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the benefits of a technical garment, but it does mean you probably shouldn’t be spending hundreds on it. (There have been a lot of advances in polyester so take this on a case by case basis and be sure to feel the item and ask about pilling before you purchase.)
- Check your care instructions. Technical fabrics are supposed to make your life easier. If you have to hand wash your workout gear that kind of defeats the purpose. Some brands hide their care instructions in those symbols that no one really knows how to read. Here’s a guide to help you out: (http://www.textileaffairs.com/docs/acsguide-050608.pdf)
If you’re like me, apparel is one of the larger line items in your monthly spending. Yet, most of us don’t really know what we are spending on, and why the prices we spend are what they are. At Brunswick Park it is our mission to help you shop smarter and ask the right questions. You likely wouldn’t eat something if you didn’t know what was in it, so make sure you know what your clothing is made of. You’ll be smarter for it.