MY LOVE FOR PERFORMANCEPerformance. I’ve given many in my lifetime --whether on stage doing comedy and improv or in Mrs. Clement’s second-grade class where I played Cajun Dancer #4 in a play about our Louisiana heritage. (I still remember parts of that two-stepping zydeco number.) I love to perform, but over the last several years of my fashion career, the word began taking a different meaning. I kept hearing that my clothes could “perform” but I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. After a failed experiment of waiting for my blouse to burst into song, I knew I had to find out the true meaning of apparel that “performs.” (Ha! And insert punchline drums).
THE MEANING OF PERFORMANCE
Yes, performance by definition is tied to entertaining, but the word “performance” can also be defined as “the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function.”
Functional or performance fabric for apparel became part of the vernacular in the early twenty-tens when the term “athleisure” began creeping into our vocabulary as well. “Athleisure” is an idea that combines performance attributes typically used in athletic apparel (moisture management and stretch) with leisure everyday apparel. So yeah, basically clothes that can make you Shaquille O’Neil, right? Not exactly.
Technologies that allowed for faster sweat evaporation, more mobility, or even technologies that could cause water to bead up and literally roll off your back were designed to help athletes perform better, faster in clothes that were more comfortable.
By 2015, garments with these technologies were made available to all, and today there is no escaping it as innovations in stacking technologies and even wearable technologies continue to be researched and developed for the apparel of tomorrow.
If you look at the outfit you are wearing, it probably has some performance influence constructed into the design. You might remember seeing a tag that mentioned “spandex” or “quick-dry,” but you might not be sure what types of benefits those features provide or what exactly do those terms mean. Here is a quick cheat sheet on some basic performance fabric technology terminologies:
Feature: Quickly moves (wicks) sweat to the fabric’s outer surface and dries rapidly
Benefit: Keeps you comfortable and allows your body to regulate its temperature efficiently
Feature: the fabric content allows these garments to move and flex with you
Benefit: Offers better comfort, fit, and mobility for the wearer
Feature: A durable finish on the outer surface of a garment that causes water to bead up and roll of garment preventing water from being absorbed by the fabric
Benefit: Keeps the wearer dry and protected from the elements
Feature: This technology captures and blocks or kills odor-causing bacteria neutralizing it before it interacts with sweat.
Benefit: Reduces the amount of body odor that escapes from the garment
MY FINAL BOW
The last sketch show I performed in received a standing ovation on closing night. I remember it vividly. It was a packed house in the middle of a Texas summer, stage lights shining on my face. I was in several musical sketches and sang and danced like I was working towards my Grammy. I wore a red shirt with wicking and my jeans had 2% elastane in them. Regardless of the heat and physical demands of the show, I knew my clothes had my back just as my fellow performers did. Similar to me, my clothes also did some performing that night to make sure I could shine like the improviser/actress/fashion designer/blogger/marketer I am!
About the Author:
With a passion for innovation and creativity, Lauren Brizendine has spent over 20 years working in the apparel industry for a variety of notable brands and private labels. When she is not talking about fabric, fit, and fashion, she moonlights as a comedic creator and writer and enjoys eating crawfish and hanging with her yorkie, Meaux.