The link between textile technology and the demands of the end-user


In this new design discipline the range of topics for research is dispersed throughout design and scientific textbooks, trade journals, manuals and the media. Designers new to this specialism often find the range of issues forbidding and difficult to prioritise. The design and selection of textiles for a clothingsystem for extreme circumstances may have implications for safety and survival. Authentic sportswear brands, created by sports practitioners, function effectively but have often lacked aesthetic awareness and style. Performance sportswear design requires an approach where the form and function meet the needs of the end-user.

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The layering system

Military preparedness has been a major influence in the development of performance sportswear. British troops sent to the Korean war `arrived in nothing but woollen serge battledress and windproof suits to fend off the worst of the Korean winter.’1 This uniform was considered obsolete compared with the `layered’ concept of `combat uniform’ trialled by the United States Army in 1943. The British introduced their seven-layer version of combat dress during the Korean war in 1950, including pile `liners’, for smock and trousers, a heavy wool jersey, a standard jersey pullover, a flannel shirt, woollen underwear and string vest.

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From walking to mountaineering

Tony Lack portrays the initial postwar image `of a keen minority of hikers’ in `shorts, clumpy boots and bulging rucksacks’. He attributes the rise in popularity of `holiday walking’, promoted by organisations such as the Holiday Fellowship, the Co-operative Holiday Association, Ramblers Association and the Youth Hostels Association, to increased leisure time and improvement in transport services. Lack describes `the only true performance fabric’, developed during the war for aircrew, as the specialist cotton woven construction `Ventile’

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