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Scientists investigate functionality of seamless underwear

According to scientists at Germany’s Hohenstein Institute, in addition to modern sportswear, the market is increasingly demanding functional undergarments for the fashion and business sectors.

31st October 2012

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Bönnigheim

Sports/​Outdoor, Clothing/​Footwear, Medical/Hygiene

According to scientists at Germany’s Hohenstein Institute, in addition to modern sportswear, the market is increasingly demanding functional undergarments for the fashion and business sectors.

However, the researchers say, for these applications, fabrics with special properties are required which clearly differentiate them from sportswear. The Hohenstein says that these gaps in the market have now been closed by a current research project entitled (ZIM-Project KF2136724CJ2) which is investigating first-layer fabrics.

The project partners say they have placed high requirements on items which are worn directly next to the skin. For instance, outer garments such as business shirts or blouses should glide over them with as little friction as possible and should also mechanically interact with them a little.

“To achieve this, the selection of fibre substrates, fabric manufacture and finishing must be finely-tuned to each other throughout the process. First-layer textiles should be as inconspicuous as possible under shirts and blouses and should appear invisible yet at the same time be pleasant to wear. In fact, wearer-acceptance is particularly important in this regard,” the Hohenstein researchers say.

“Furthermore, when used in conjunction with business wear, these first-layer textiles must not negatively impair the concentration and attention of the wearer in the accomplishment of his/her duties. And last but not least the materials must ensure that the wearer feels fresh throughout the whole working day and does not smell of sweat.”

In order to combine these material properties and implement them in a product range, the researchers at the Department for Hygiene, Environment & Medicine at the Hohenstein Institute are working with Pro Feet Functional Wear GmbH, a designer of seamless functional sportswear, on a joint and publicly-funded project, which is investigating the complex interactions of first-layer textiles with the skin and outer garments.

The Hohenstein scientists say that they are, for the first time, pursuing new approaches relating to neurophysiologic product perceptions of textiles by the consumer. In the words of Prof. Dr. Dirk Höfer, Head of the Department for Hygiene, Environment and Medicine at the Hohenstein Institute:

“We want to understand how direct body-contact clothing is accepted by the wearer and how it influences him/her. We are capturing this data in a research project by using state-of-the-art neurophysiologic methods which have their origins in neuromarketing".

In this context, the Hohenstein says, their investigations, which also cover the influence of first-layer textiles on people's daily working routine, are based on a recognised concentration and awareness test.

Finally the scientists say they have incorporated validated test systems for optimum textile sweat odour management into the project. Here the researchers have developed a test track via which the sweat build-up can be evaluated quantitatively via specially marked sweat odour molecules and qualitatively by trained panellists. This, they say, enables a clear ranking of ‘first-level’ textiles with a view to the intensity of sweat odour development in comparison to customary products available on the market.

In the project the partners are pursuing a special functional approach for effective sweat management which on the one hand reduces the creation of sweat odour, and on the other, inactivates the odour molecules in such a way that they can no longer be perceived by the nose, and all with the best possible skin-friendly properties.

For sports undergarments the primary focus is on wear comfort and optimum sweat management through the first-layer textiles. In this context the emphasis is on the performance of the wearer which the textiles must at best support, and not negatively influence at all.

According to the Hohenstein, the cooperative project has introduced the specialists to a new market and brand environment which requires a discriminating handling of seamless laundry items, since the requirements profile of the products is fundamentally different, with the exception of optimum wear comfort.

“We are looking forward to working together with the Hohenstein Institute and expect from this venture into a new specialist area to gain valuable feedback results for our sportswear line”, says Leif Heppner, Managing Director of Pro Feet Functional Wear GmbH.


Dr. Timo Hammer

[email protected]

The Project ZIM KF KF2136724CJ2 has been financed by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology following a resolution of the German Bundestag.

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