What is Polyester?
We will take a look at this widely used but often misunderstood fiber known as Polyester. Polyester is a very strong, synthetic fiber that is used in many different applications. We will also show you one of our favorite moisture management polyester t-shirts and gave an update on the process of turning this fiber into a modern, high performance fabric.
Polyester is a non-natural fiber that can be used to create a similarly interesting non-natural fabric. Believe it or not, polyester is made from crude oil; it is a type of plastic that is melted and spun into a fiber. If you weave almost any fiber in the right way you can turn it into a usable fabric. You can find polyester in a multitude of everyday products such as furniture, rope, seat belts, bedding, tee shirts, blankets, fleece and many other types of clothing.
This amazing material was the brainchild of two Dupont Engineers, which should not come as a surprise, knowing the inventive history of that remarkable company. The first of the world changing fibers and inventions was widely noted as Nylon, but Polyester and others were right there within a few years of the Nylon introduction. Until about ten years ago, many were correct in their criticism of polyester clothing and were correct to avoid it for many applications. It did not breathe, was uncomfortable, itchy, and could be melted easily with a hot iron; the list of complaints went on and on. There are still to this day, many traditional old school designers that say, “avoid this dreaded fabric” at all cost. Many of these arguments stem from the fact that for hundreds years cotton and other natural fibers were much softer, easier to dye, generally easier to work with and in turn, more suitable for clothing and apparel.
But now, polyester fabrics have been revolutionized into what many call a modern engineered-fabric and the go-to item for many uses. This awesome synthetic fabric is changing the apparel world with plenty of examples to prove this point. It is a very soft, wrinkle resistant, durable, fabric that will retain color well. Another interesting feature is that it dries out very quickly if it becomes wet from water or sweat.
Before moving forward have a look at this great video of polyester fiber being woven into fabric: How It's Made - Polyester fabric.
A great example of a brand that is now a household name and has been important in the polyester revival is Under Armour. It is said that the founder of the company came up with the moisture management base layer while playing football. He was apparently wearing a cotton t-shirt under his football pads and after practice he had noticed how soaked with sweat the shirt was and decided to weigh it. To his surprise the t-shirt weighed in at a few pounds and it would stay that way for a long time, as it did not dry out very easily. This is where the idea of the polyester base layer was born. By many accounts this has fundamental changed the use of synthetic fibers in clothing and apparel, most specifically in athletics. Among the common terms you will hear used to describe these types of products are Dry-FIT, Dry Zone and Dri-Mesh.
One of our favorite polyester products is the moisture-wicking Sport-Tek Competitor Tee, ST350. This tee is also available in long sleeve (ST350LS), youth (YST350) and ladies styles (LST350). It is perfect for team sports, charity runs and a whole host of other uses. Since it's introduction it has been one of our most popular products.
There are lot of other very good products that have adopted these moisture wicking characteristics; polo shirts, golf shirts, camp shirts, and the like, both men’s and ladies. Here is one more look at a very interesting use of polyester, the recycling of plastic bottles to be turned into clothing such as sweatshirts and fleece jackets.