Innovation in the textile industry has brought about products like clothing with sensors that track your heart rate, fitness, stress rate etc. Today, you can connect your t-shirt to your mobile app and get your little digital personal trainer. Basically, tracking your workout progress was never easier than it is today.
As a custom sportswear manufacturer from Europe, we thought about doing something similar. But under the condition that we only use our textile crafting skills. No apps and no strings attached, literally.
So we made a product that tracks your weight loss progress in the long run. It doesn‘t track your heart rate or anything like that. It simply changes colour as an indication of how far you‘ve progressed.
The product we’re talking about is – leggings.
Custom all-over print leggings
When stretched, they are dark fluorescent pink or dark fluorescent green. In fact, the more you stretch, the more fluorescence you can see.
Therefore, if your leggings get less fluorescent over a certain period, that’s an indication that you’ve lost weight. No sensors, no processors. All you need is your natural sensory processing.
So what‘s the catch? The catch is in dye sublimation printing. It is an essential part of the colour-changing property of our little invention. Ok. Here‘s how we did it. First, we dyed the lycra fabric in fluorescent colours (pink or green). Then, we cut the fabric for sewing. But before the trims for the leggings-to-be made their way to the sewing machines, we did this little trick. We ran it through the dye sublimation calander and, like the Rollin Stones, painted it black.
That means that the black colour of these leggings will stay black when unstretched. Stretching them will reveal the original fluorescent colour of the fabric more and more. And that‘s how you get to know if your legs have gotten thinner after weeks of exercise. None of this wouldn‘t be possible if we weren‘t working as a custom activewear manufacturer that makes its own fabrics. We have the capacity to make 2.5 tonnes of fabric a day so there’s always room for experimentation.
What are dye sublimation printers and calenders?
Dye sublimation printers and dye sublimation calanders are machines that offer a great alternative to the conventional dyeing of synthetic fabric. The way they work is the following:
Benefits of dye-sublimation: longevity and minimal water consumption
By applying colour to the fabric in this way, the inks penetrate the fabric strands on a molecular level and make for more permanent colours. They will definitely stay intact after multiple washes. That is great because it extends the life cycle of the clothes and makes us wear them longer.
What‘s really great about this fabric colouring method is that it uses almost no water (5ml of water-based ink is all it takes to dye 1kg of synthetic fabric). Compare it to the conventional way of dyeing, which uses up to 200 l per kg of fabric, and you‘ll see the stark difference.
Sadly, this method doesn‘t yield great results with natural fibres, which limits your choice of materials. We say this because synthetic fibres still have better moisture-wicking properties than natural ones.
So if you‘re a sportswear or yoga wear brand, chin up. This is still the way to run your business a tad more sustainably.