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Athletic or urban? Technical or relaxed? It’s hard to pick from a range when you’re looking for a technical sports garment (jacket, pants or base layer). What criteria tell you if an item is technical? We asked the people who design Lafuma’s clothing – Camille and Michaël.
Clothing designed for leisure activities must satisfy some serious criteria: lightness, freedom of movement and breathability. To meet these objectives, designers focus on fabric selection, design and build. For instance, let’s take a look at the Shift Pant. /p>
It’s a close-fitting garment, guaranteeing in-action comfort that gives the wearer total freedom. “First, we choose a stretch fabric that won’t impede mobility, such as when the knees bend,” explains Michaël Svitex. “Then, when we work on the build, we’ll make sure there are no awkward multiple layers.”
We choose a stretch fabric that won’t impede mobility, such as when the knees bend”
Lightness results from the same fabric-selection and construction work, as on the Shift Gore-Tex jacket, built with a technical 2.5 layer laminate.
Lightness is less of a priority on urban models”
“With this model, we didn’t add a mesh lining, like on the Rambler, which is a more urban model where lightness is less of a priority,” says Camille Miquerol. “The Rambler has lots of pockets, unlike the Shift, because less fabric means less thickness – and less weight.” Two Gore-Tex jackets, designed for different purposes – which explains why one weighs 60% more than the other (270g vs 430g).
There’s also the whole array of technical details”
A piece of clothing intended for a technical discipline must take account of constraints in its operating environment – such as the wearer carrying a backpack. For the Trackshell F-Zip jacket, the designers placed the pockets fairly high, so they’re accessible even with pack on back. The zip, which ends under the chin, is protected by a flap so that it doesn’t scratch or interfere.
“There’s also the whole array of technical details,” adds Camille, “such as thumbholes to keep the cuffs in place and stop cold air getting in, but also the hood and the snug body-hugging fit.”
Other important criteria come into play when designing (and choosing) a technical sports garment – such as the ability to dry quickly (with Dryway fabric, for example), or breathability, i.e. sweat being wicked away during exertion. This depends on the selected fabric, but also on its construction, as Michaël explains: “The more pockets you add, the more layers get overlaid, and the less breathable the garment is.”
The more pockets you add, the more layers get overlaid, and the less breathable the garment is.”
The Track Tank is a good example of a product designed to breathe. Its ventilated build consists of two fabrics: a very light jersey on the torso, and a highly breathable technical mesh on the top of the shoulder straps and on the collar. All these qualities add up to a piece of clothing that’s ready for action!