In response to the fashion world and streetwear culture demanding more utility and functional pieces brands have decided to create techwear which at its core is science and fashion coming together to meet those demands. Techwear brands have incorporated fabric technology for maximum versatility and reliability.
What is Techwear?
In its simplest form Techwear is the combination of fabrics & advanced constructed technologies to create new functionalities.
These particular clothes are typically designed with functional benefits in mind, such as weather resistance, breathable components and heat insulation.
Techwear is also defined and categorized by having a futuristic aesthetic and look to its pieces which has often been cited as taking inspiration from cyberpunk.
At a first glance of the term tech-wear or heard within conversation most people may not understand what it is as the term “tech” is normally associated with the internet, gadgets or modern-day inventions. This is why our definition is here to demystify any confusion around the term. All you need to remember is that techwear is Athleisure constructed with special fabrics to allow certain functionalities. Got it? Good!
The rise & popularity of techwear has grown over the past decade as brands have been able to communicate and market the many different benefits such as
- Water Resistance
Techwear brands are continually using fabrics of certain density to reduce the penetration of water into clothing. This is mostly used on outerwear pieces which we will look at in more detail later. (Does not entirely prevent water)
- Water Resistance
In particularly colder seasons which often times also results in windy day’s techwears response to this comes in the form of windproof production to aid as heat insulation keeping us warm day and night.
In regards to techwear breathable clothing refers to the fabric being able to absorb moisture well, only to release it through the material again allowing it to breathe while providing maximum comfort to the individual. The idea is to transport sweat away from skin immediately.
- Durable Water Repellency
Similar to water resistant fabrics, however, with regard to water repellency techwear is not easily penetrated by water due to its surface coating which was made with the sole intention to avoid liquids at all costs. The industry standard in regards to water repellency remains Gore-Tex who have received multiple industry recognitions and awards for its high-quality fabrics.
- Durable Water Repellency
As the name suggests, many techwear brands are creating base layer pieces with the intentions of 100% comfort and stretch ability.
Techwear Key Categories
As fashion becomes much more innovative Techwear brands are continuously ensuring we have the best outerwear layers.
Within the techwear industry Jackets are the focus point with brands having the ability to create different styles while splitting the variation into 2, Hard-shell and Soft-shell jackets.
Hard-shell – Thanks to Dry technology Hard-shell jackets are made water & Dry proof which is suitable for colder seasons in the year
Soft-shell – In comparison to hard-shell layers, the soft-shell jackets support comfortability and movement allowing individuals support with activities such as walking, cycling and hiking.
Here are some examples of hard-shell jackets & softshell jackets
The main intention and functionality of mid layer tech is to keep warm which is worn under the outerwear jackets. From hoodies, vests & fleeces the mid layer comes in different variations.
Different options of putting this together are available such as layering a mid-section under your jacket or wearing a tech wear hoody and vest over it for the ultimate insulation.
The base layer which is worn next to the skin is the garment which is usually the first item to be worn a part of an outfit or can be worn alone. The tech usually associated with the base layer would be the materials moisture dissolving capabilities.
Take Nike’s DRI-FIT for example, Dri-FIT Technology helps you stay dry & comfortable as it’s incorporated this tech into most of its base layers.
Though techwear pants aren’t as popular as outerwear they are still being pushed by techwear brands for their functionality.
Water repellency, comfortability, breathability, stretch with extra pocket space has made much of the appeal towards tech pants with brands such as Nike ACG stating
“ACG Cargo Trousers are all about stretchy comfort. Their articulated knee helps you move without restriction, so you can freely adventure over city streets or forest trails “
Footwear can be paired with other techwear items or regular pieces which allows for more versatile looks. Consisting of wind & waterproof material to keep you warm and covered day and night while consisting of breathable fabrics for keeping sneakers dry.
The tech used in sneakers today also delivers all day comfort with things such as comfortable padding around the ankle area and rubber out-sole for traction making this great for long walks, trips to the gym or outdoor activities.
Techwear Brands for your Wardrobe
Now that we have covered what techwear is, its benefits and how we categorize the layers, let’s investigate the different brands offering some of the best performance techwear for all occasions. Whether you aim to use these garments as casual wear or for its intended purposes there will be a brand to suit your specific needs.
Nike ACG is a subsidiary line of Nike INC which first entered the market in the early 90’s selling outdoor wear. ACG with stands for (All Conditions Gear) continuously promotes sports apparel for all climate conditions and environments.
Back in 2014 Nike brought in Errolson Hugh (Founder of Acronym) to reposition and refocus its sportswear which included a range of techwear.
Today the brand offers multiple techwear pieces from hoody’s, jackets, sneakers, gilets & accessories. The Nike ACG Line comes in a mix of breathable and woven fabrics to ensure comfort and flexibility.
Uniqlo Block Tech
Uniqlo being one of the most recognized brands and retailers worldwide have ventured into techwear with some of the world’s most affordable high-quality pieces.
From Blocktech coats to Blocktech parkas the Uniqlo range consists from water resistance fabrics and windproof technologies ensuring individuals are kept dry while having a smart casual look. The Blocktech range at Uniqlo is available for men, women & children.
Best known for its detail-oriented designs and re-engineered pockets, Acronym is one of the leading techwear brands today.
Errolson Hugh (Founder of Acronym) emphasizes the brands thesis during interviews and media publications which is about focusing on the combination between style and technology in active apparel garments.
This innovation in style merging tech and clothing together caught the attention of Nike which led into a Hugh creating new ACG gear. This not only acts as social proof but a testament to Hugh’s creativity and innovation which is what Acronym is all about.
Many people have posed the question around Stone Island and tech which I am going to answer for you all
Is Stone Island Techwear?
Stone island own their subsidiary line The Shadow Project Line which is all about innovative designs merging clothes and tech together.
Adopting the same thesis as Acronym’s Founder Hugh, Stone island followed suit by experimenting with different dyes, patterns and high-tech fabrics. This allowed the brand to release their first pieces in 2008 exploring with different tech silhouettes and continue to offer this today.
The Northface is one of the most recognizable outerwear brands embodying the true meaning of purpose-designed garments for all conditions.
The Northface is great for individuals looking for high quality techwear pieces such as hard-shell and soft-shell jackets without the cyberpunk styling.
The techwear is crafted with windproof & waterproof fabric to keep you dry and extra insulation for warmth. The brand has been a favorite for individuals participating in outdoor activities such as hiking, walking, skiing and cycling.
The brand Outlier which is mostly known for their trademark technical pants item – OG Pants, have positioned themselves as a brand creating smart practical techwear pieces. This alone sets them apart from all the listed brands within the article as the vast majority of other techwear brands steer towards sports & activity based techwear.
As quoted by the brand themselves
“From the finest single-origin merinos to radical new synthetic developments and intimate hybrids of nature and technology, we insist on the best materials for the job to be done”
Jack Wolfskin originally founded in 1981 has risen to become one of the biggest suppliers of outerwear and accessories. The brand also has its own Wolfskin Techlab which is all about garment response to climate changes and innovation.
Each techwear piece being designed with environmental friendly material, performance protection elements such as wind and waterproof tech & Press stud systems allowing versatility in layering garments to provide additional protection indoor and outdoor, this list would not be complete without Jack Wolfskin.
The Jack Wolfskin Tech Line is 100% PFC free.
An Arc’teryx Jacket can last a decade with proper care due to its high-performance fabric suitable for the outdoor activities. Arc’teryx products are more than consumer items but investments which pays off each year.
With a portfolio that now includes the technical menswear line Veilance this indicates 2 things
1. Arc’teryx understanding of the growing techwear market for men
2. To meet this demand while innovating new ideas
Arc’teryx continue to innovate by creating face fabric Sidewinder Jackets, base layers, pants, fleeces and boots with winter abrasion resistance which are fully weatherproof.
The Houdini company ethos is one which promotes sustainability of functional clothing. Houdini uses eco-conscious tech to create sportswear apparel with a focus on the environment.
Houdini also offers the option for Individuals to rent out their performance gear instead of purchasing the products. This allows for the sharing of resources, less waste, less storage in people’s homes & access to the latest gear.
As quoted by the brands website
“We believe in creating alternative ways for you to get access to Houdini gear. By renting instead of buying, you can select your gear for each adventure and leave the hassle of washing, fixing or storing to us. And you are doing planet earth a favor as well! By sharing we can use natural resources in a smarter way and become a counterweight. “
Mammut follow a procedure called “Phase Weave technology,” in their garments which for the purposes of their jackets means that they’ve integrated reinforced sections of fabric without extra seams.
To put it in layman terms the material transitions from a lighter weight fabric to a burlier fabric without the need of further manipulation such as extra stitching or welding. This results in lesser places for water to enter garments.
Mammut is also famous for the production of its high-performance equipment such as its climbing ropes, Harnesses & Belay Devices.
These sorts of initiatives and high-quality equipment is why Mammut is on our list of techwear brands.
As evidenced above it should be obvious to see techwear is something not showing any signs of slowing down. As technology advances we are going to use this to our advantage which will also mean getting the most from our clothes.
With the rise of athleisure and consumer demand for functionality within clothing, brands will continue to respond to this by testing, innovating and marketing new products.
What do you think the future of techwear is and will you purchase techwear from these brands?