Don’t Sweat It

Clothing brands develop high-tech, moisture-wicking apparel

In 2013, outdoor clothing brand Columbia introduced Omni-Freeze Zero, a textile innovation that uses a person’s own sweat to cool them down. Lately, more purveyors of smart clothing have introduced similar fabric technologies, offering garments designed to keep the wearer cool and dry while working out—or, perhaps, while standing on crowded subway platforms in a winter coat.


MIT researchers have partnered with New Balance and the UK’s Royal College of Art on bioLogic, a project investigating if microorganisms discovered a millennium ago in Japan can be used to create a naturally ventilating bio-skin material suitable for apparel. The special bacteria are harvested in a bio lab, assembled by a micron-resolution bio-printing system, and transformed into a “second skin” that can open and close according to humidity levels. If the wearer sweats, the material’s vents expand to allow for increased air flow, cooling down the wearer naturally.


During New York Fashion Week this past September, designer label Chromat debuted a high-tech sports bra, created in partnership with Intel, that prevents excessive sweating. The stylish white Aeros bra, which was modeled on the runway by Alek Wek, utilizes Intel Curie technology to adjust according to the biology of the person wearing it. Embedded hardware senses factors like the wearer’s level of perspiration, breathing rate, and body temperature; it then automatically adjusts by opening and closing tiny vents in the band, helping to keep the wearer cool and dry. The garment is made of Lycra, mesh, neoprene and 3-D printed frames.


Vancouver-based apparel brand DU/ER is creating a special pair of moisture-wicking pants that are intended to be both comfortable enough for casual settings and also nice enough for more professional environments. Available in both men’s and women’s styles, the “No Sweat” pant is fashioned from Nature2x, an ultra-absorbent, anti-bacterial, odor-resistant Tencel weave, crafted from eucalyptus trees with more standard fabrics such as cotton, polyester, and spandex. The product, which is geared toward young professionals with an active lifestyle, was funded through a Kickstarter campaign in which 1,448 backers collectively pledged $229,132.