The Future of Sportswear?

November 26, 2015
Neil Brotherston

The Future of Sportswear?

Technology has always been evident in sportswear. From Nike’s Air trainers to Speedo’s FASTSKIN Racing System, athletes have benefited from these advances in technology to help them become faster, stronger, better.

Recent years have seen a growing popularity in ‘wearables’ where both clothes and accessories feature various forms of technology. The majority of these wearables provide data to help athletes improve their performance. But what about the clothes that actually incorporate the technology into the fabric? Is that where the future of sportswear lies?

Take for example one of the biggest sports success stories on crowd-funding platform Kickstarter – Radiate Athletics.

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Radiate Athletics sportswear is a performance sportswear range that changes colour, depending on your training intensity: “This shirt works out with you”. If you were training your biceps in the gym, your t-shirt would reflect this, with the fabric around your biceps changing colour to red, to show that these muscles are being worked hard.

On the surface of it, it’s a nice idea and it brought something new to the market. But in reality you have to question the benefit this brings. If you’re in the gym doing bicep curls and you don’t know that it’s working your biceps, then there are some fundamental issues that need to be addressed.

In reality it is a gimmick – at most it provides some instant gratification showing that your workout is having an effect but it doesn’t necessarily enhance your work-out.

That’s where something like prototype sensitive textile coating SOAK comes into play. Playing on a similar, chameleon like colour changing format, SOAK reacts to the chemicals in your sweat to show in real-time what your hydration levels are – various shades of blue for well-hydrated, green for hydrated enough and yellow and orange for dehydrated i.e. useful information that you can action to make a difference.


It’s here where the real difference lays – the ability to do something with the information. SOAK allows you to read your hydration levels, and alerts you if you are reaching dangerous levels of dehydration so you can remedy this.

Taking it one step further is German company Antelope which manufactures sportswear embedded with electro muscle stimulation technology. It promises to not only measure your body’s data but also ‘activate it’ by stimulating each of your major muscle groups. It’s pricey but given a twenty minute training session with Antelope is equivalent to 3 hours of a conventional workout, it could be worth it.


If the new trend of wearable, in-built technology is really going to take off and change the way we train, companies need to produce garments that produce data that is meaningful, actionable and ultimately helpful to your performance.

However with ingestibles being touted as the next big thing, it will be interesting to see what wearables have a future – and which don’t.

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