- Continuing its investment in fabric technology, Under Armour partnered with chemical and materials company Celanese Corp. to create a new stretch fiber, Neolast, the activewear brand announced Monday.
- Neolast will act as an alternative to elastane, the fiber that gives apparel stretch, otherwise known as spandex. Neolast will be produced using recyclable elastoester polymers. The companies are working to improve the compatibility of stretch fabrics with future recycling systems and infrastructure.
- Celanese plans to make the fiber available to other companies in the apparel industry, “potentially reducing elastane dependence,” per the press release.
With the launch of Neolast, Under Armour is returning to its fabric tech roots. When the brand debuted its first shirt, dubbed “The Shorty” in 1996, it promised to wick away sweat faster than its competitors and keep its wearers “cool, dry and light,” according to its website.
“This new Neolast fiber represents a transformative innovation for Under Armour and the textile industry, embodying our commitment to building better products for our consumers and planet,” Kyle Blakely, senior vice president of innovation at Under Armour, said in a statement. “Through performance-driven sustainability and innovation, we look forward to helping athletes play at the top of their game as we work with Celanese to realize this new fiber’s potential to forge a path toward circularity.”
Under Armour has developed other fabrics in recent years. In 2016, the company released the Curry 3 athletic shoe with its Threadborne fabric technology, which was designed to provide “lightweight directional strength and infinite support.” About three years later, the brand introduced the UA Rush collection featuring fabric that was designed to absorb heat, convert it into infrared energy and redirect it onto the wearer.
Under Armour’s development of Neolast follows consecutive slow quarters for the brand. In August, the company reported a 2% dip in Q1 revenue to $1.3 billion. North America revenue for the quarter dropped 9%. The following quarter, the retailer reported roughly flat revenue of $1.6 billion. In North America, the company’s largest region, revenue slid 2%.
In August Under Armour said the company would focus on refreshing product, particularly improving design in the footwear, women’s and sportstyle categories.