H.I.G. Growth Partners News
Natural Performance - An Increasingly Diverse Range of Brands are Using 37.5
A fibre technology created using volcanic sand and coconut shells designed to enhance the properties of natural fibres such as wool, cotton and silk.
June 30, 2016 -- The use of 37.5 – a unique technology derived from natural particles – is growing in the sports and outdoor wear market, as well as a wide range of other sectors, as brands look for new ways to enhance the performance of natural fibres for active consumers.
37.5 technology, developed and owned by the American textile technology company Cocona, based in Boulder, Colorado, is made of volcanic sand or coconut shell-activated carbon that is added to fibres to increase comfort and performance.
Gregory Haggquist, PhD, the founder of Cocona and its chief technology officer, explains that by embedding these natural particles in fabrics, 37.5 speeds up the conversion of liquid to vapour, “cooling you when it is hot and warming you when it is cold.”
According to Dr Haggquist, 37.5 technology adds a water release mechanism to natural fibres, reducing the microclimate humidity level and leading to greater comfort and performance.
“Unlike conventional wicking, 37.5 technology is all about preventing sweating in the first place,” he says. “It works by providing two unique driving forces that no other technology can match. First the 37.5 materials attract water though electrostatic force, pulling it away from your skin, drying out the microclimate. Second, they absorb the infrared energy your body naturally emits, which heats the particle and speeds evaporation.”
He adds that the active particles in 37.5 fibres add up to 1,000 square metres of surface area to an average garment. “The combination of increased surface area and the unique driving forces mean that no other performance fabric can come close to the comfort and performance of 37.5 fabrics,” he claims.
37.5 fibres can be blended with any natural fibre, forming a spun yarn that can be used in a wide range of fabric constructions.
“Combining 37.5 technology with natural fibres such as wool, cotton, lyocell and silk creates a completely unique effect,” says Haggquist. “The resultant blend is greater than the individual parts, leading to a unique advantage for humans. All the wonderful aspects of the natural fibre are retained, yet by adding 37.5, they become super-charged.”
He notes that scientific studies have shown that 37.5 fabric enhances both comfort and athletic performance. “This is accomplished by reducing the humidity build up within the microclimate. 37.5 is not a chemical finish. The technology is permanent since it is part of the fibre and has been certified by the Hohenstein Institute to be skin-friendly and hypoallergenic.”
The 37.5 technology first began its development when Cocona was originally founded in 2000 by Haggquist, along with Thomas Kallish and Amy Haggquist.
Their vision was to change fabric performance by adding materials that use sorption science. “The understanding of the adsorbance and desorbance of water molecules is the key to changing the human comfort and performance equation,” says Haggquist. “Drying out the microclimate air surrounding the body has proven to be the critical element to both comfort and performance. Through this understanding, the 37.5 team has been able to develop some of the widest comfort range products on the planet.”
37.5 technology can be used in fabrics, laminates, footwear, foams, insulation, down and bedding. “It’s pretty limitless technology,” says Haggquist. “Most important, 37.5 is a 24/7 technology – it’s as applicable to athletic clothing as it is to bedding and suiting.”
As examples of final products using 37.5 technology, he points to clothing from the UK outdoor brand Rab, based in Sheffield, which Haggquist says features “really beautiful Merino wool blends with 37.5 technology. You see this product on most of their pro climbers. When you can only climb in one or two pieces of clothing you need them to function really well no matter what the weather or activity level.”
In addition, the Swedish workwear manufacturer Snickers produces a Merino wool baselayer blended with 37.5 for workwear customers that Haggquist says keeps them comfortable in a wide range of conditions.
Ski brand Rossignol, sports equipment company Salomon, and cycling equipment brand Mavic – all based in France – also make blends for their performance customers using 37.5 technology.
37.5 is also featured in a growing number of fashion collections. American brand Tommy Bahama, based in Seattle, has created what Haggquist describes as “the world’s best technical silk, by blending Tommy Bahama’s trademark silk with 37.5 technology, making it incredibly comfortable.”
Other companies using 37.5 include the Swiss Army knife and clothing brand Victorinox, which has created a collection using cotton and other natural fibres blended with 37.5; and the US brand Nau, which is committed to designing modern clothing that performs and has low environmental impact, and according to Haggquist uses 37.5 insulation for its sustainability benefits. He explains that in addition to the particles being naturally derived, customers can order 37.5 embedded into yarn that is 100% recycled.
Meanwhile, this October, US designer brand Kenneth Cole will be debuting a collection of men’s wool suits, cotton dress shirts and sportswear under the Kenneth Cole AWEARNESS brand that will feature 37.5.
“We don’t sell fabric, we make and license 37.5 technology to our mill partners and brands,” says Haggquist. “We have a list of certified mills that can make 37.5 fabrics, insulation, down, and laminates. Each of these mills is expert at maximising the benefits of our technology. When we get a new brand partner we match them with the mills that will best fit the products they are making.”
According to Haggquist, demand for 37.5 has never been higher. “With the expansion into lifestyle, tailored, and bedding products we are experiencing our highest level of growth,” he says. “This new growth is coming about because of a perfect storm of several key factors – scientific studies that are supporting our main premise of greater comfort and performance; a new brand identity moving from Cocona to 37.5 in order to talk directly about the benefits; and the blending with natural fibres have all led to new markets and uses of 37.5 technology.”
Haggquist adds: “Once customers see and experience 37.5 technology they start thinking of creative ways to incorporate it into their lines. 37.5 started in outdoor and sports, where most fabric technologies are born. However, we started seeing a trend for sportswear, suiting and fashion designers to shop for fabric technologies at outdoor and sport tradeshows.”
In addition to exhibiting at sports and outdoor tradeshows, 37.5 now has a booth at Première Vision Paris twice a year.
37.5 was also recently asked by the European Space Agency to participate in its Couture in Orbit exhibit, in which it asked fashion schools to imagine life in space using fabric technology. “What the students came up with was remarkable,” says Haggquist. “It resulted in a fashion show at the London Science Museum that will go on to Milan Fashion Week in September. So 37.5 technology is not just for life on earth!”
Looking ahead, Haggquist says that it is hard to predict how widely 37.5 technology might be used in the future, given the diversity of is applications.
“We didn’t know 37.5 technology would make the world’s best tent until the UK tent manufacturer Crux proved it. We didn’t know it would greatly improve the comfort of fishing waders until the American fishing equipment brand Redington incorporated it into their waders. We didn’t know we could change a hockey player’s game until we worked on foam with 37.5 technology for Bauer Hockey protective equipment. We didn’t know we could dramatically change the comfort of a suit until Kenneth Cole used it in the lining, interlining, and wool.”
Haggquist adds: “It’s exciting to see designers and innovators pushing the envelope of what we can do with 37.5. The future for 37.5 is full of new applications of the technology. We are limited only by the imagination."
“At 37.5 we continue to ask questions like why are you comfortable, what increases performance, and how does the human body function? Through asking these questions and not settling to look at the problems in the same old way we have leaped ahead of the competition to redefine comfort and performance. We are taking natural fibres to a new level of comfort and performance. After all, there’s no reason you shouldn’t experience comfort and performance in everything you wear, no matter what you are doing or where you are.”