Dance fashion and apparel have grown immensely in recent years, with many innovations in fabrication. Staying informed about the materials used in garments is crucial for storeowners, who can use this intel to educate their customers and help them choose the most suitable leotard or tights. Here, DRN has rounded up news on some of the latest—and most popular—fabrics for dancewear.
Dance apparel makers have been eager to address the growing trend among consumers to favor earth-friendly products. According to Sasha Souki, the dancewear designer at Motionwear, fabrics that have a sustainable story are top sellers, in part because shoppers want to feel good about the purchases they make. But ecofriendly raw materials have many other wonderful selling points, too. “Motionwear’s new Tencel fabric is made from a raw material wood via an ecofriendly process,” says Souki. “The fabric is very breathable and absorbent and holds its color even in the presence of sweat or water.” Many Motionwear leotards are available in Tencel. (In fact, many of its products can be ordered in the material of your—or your customers’—choice, at an additional charge.)
Naturally sourced and produced fabrics are known to be cooling, have moisture-wicking properties and be very soft. Sharene Lewis of Covet Dance Clothing likes how “the new, all-natural fabrics tend to flow more nicely than ordinary cotton and many technically produced materials, which can be rather stiff.” Says Lewis, “By using bamboo-based material, which has an almost silk-like hand feel, we’ve been able to create flowy garments that move well with the dancer—something very popular with the competition and convention crowd.” For instance, the Dare Dream Dance swing tank (above) is a top seller.
The benefits of sustainability—for consumers and the environment—have a cost, of course, increasing prices for the customer. And “natural fabrics aren’t always up to the same performance standards as technical fabrics,” says Melissa Brannan, vice president of design and merchandising for Capezio. “The two types of materials often serve different purposes—natural for warm-ups and studio-to-street apparel, and technical for highly active environments.”
Dancers are increasingly interested in performance fabrics that move and breathe exceptionally well. Advances in manufacturing have allowed for the development of fabrics and fabric combinations with unique and impressive performance capabilities. Similar to ecofriendly fabrics, highly technical blends are often absorbent, cooling and breathable, but many offer additional qualities. “These technically advanced fabrics can be colored, printed and processed in many different ways,” says Souki, “so for fashion dancewear, they’re very versatile. And they give the dancer added benefits like better fit, longevity, colorfastness and an ability to stay true to shape.” These traits are a result of both material composition—look for spandex, polyester and microfiber blends—and advanced manufacturing processes.
Microfiber blends continue to be among the most popular of the technical fabrics. Petr Orlov, general manager of Wear Moi, says that “microfiber materials are better able to retain their intended color and shape,” fabric properties that add to an item’s longevity (an appealing selling point to use with cost-conscious customers). “Because microfibers hold on to color so well, you’re able to have a huge color palette, and dancers can be assured that over time, their dancewear will stay true to its original shade,” Orlov adds.
Microfiber also has quick-dry capabilities that help keep dancers cool and fresh. Nicole Summerlin of Eurotard Dancewear says, “Microfiber is your go-to if you’re looking for comfort and function. The fabric is extremely soft and is able to wick moisture away from the body and dry quickly, so that neither the dancer nor the garment is left feeling sticky and damp.”
Another popular technical fabric blend is a mix of polyester and spandex. Capezio is using a fabric called Germanium, composed of this mix, in a new collection for its 2017 line “Recovery Ballerina.” Says Brannan, “This fabric combination is breathable and wicking anyway, but due to the structure of the yarn and the way it is knit, this particular composition also traps heat to aid in muscle recovery.”
Sparkly, But Soft Luis Guimarães, CEO of Ballet Rosa, is most excited about the company’s new Crystal Dust material. “We’ve been able to create the first-ever printed sparkling microfiber fabric for the dance industry,” he says. “Sparkle fabrics of the past were often hard and scratchy because of the metal component required to create the sparkle, but with new technologies, it’s become possible to maintain the softness of the microfiber without losing any of the sparkle.”
Even tights are making technological strides. Kelly McCaughey of Só Dança says that new material blends combined with unique knitting composition can create an incredibly soft yet durable tight with a very distinct property. “Using double torsion thread, we’ve been able to make a tight that is actually constructed in the shape of the leg,” she says. “Due to this, the tights remain in place on the body, never sag around the knees and ankles and feel almost as if you’re wearing nothing at all.”
Running through all these trends in fabric is the drive to create apparel that never hinders or restricts a dancer’s movement, but instead effortlessly enhances physicality. As Souki puts it: “The future of dancewear includes the creation of fabric that feels more like a second skin to the wearer and seems to disappear during movement.”
Alyssa Marks, a freelance writer based in Alabama, is a former editor with Dance Media Publications.
Photos courtesy of manufacturers