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Why is the Vast Majority of Sportswear Made of Polyester?

Why is the Vast Majority of Sportswear Made of Polyester?

Nov 7,2022
Polyester is the fabric of choice for sportswear. It's almost impossible to come across sportswear that doesn't have polyester on the label.

This has caused a lot of people to wonder...why polymers? What makes it special? What characteristics make it a workhorse in sportswear?

The truth is, there is more than one reason for activewear manufacturers to choose polyester over the many other fabrics known to man.

Below, we outline the key benefits of polyesters, which are the first choice for the production of sports apparel.

What is Polyester?

First...let's give an overview of polyester.

Polyester is basically man-made or synthetic fibers made from petroleum-based products. It was invented in 1941 and is relatively new to the game compared to fabrics like cotton.

Synthetic fiber is basically a plastic sheeting (or plastic-based fabric, if you prefer) that is made by mixing various chemicals to create strong fibers.

That's why its high strength, durability, and other desirable properties make it ideal for sportswear, as described below…

Why is Polyester Used in Sportswear?

These are the key properties/benefits of polyester that make it the perfect fabric choice for sports apparel:


One of the main reasons polymers are the darling of top sportswear manufacturers is their high strength and durability.

Short polyester fibers have a tenacity grade of 2.6 to 5.7cN/dtex, while high tenacity fibers have a tenacity grade of 5.6 to 8.0cN/dtex. (Remember that fiber strength is measured in terms of linear mass density, which loosely translates to the weight of a given length of fiber).

Coupled with the low hygroscopicity of polyester, it can be seen that its wet strength and dry strength are basically the same. What if it were compared to other fibers? The impact strength of polyester will be 4 times higher than nylon, ... 20 times higher than viscose.

High-strength polyester fibers can withstand the intense, repetitive movements performed by athletes and last for a long time. They have the excellent abrasion resistance and can withstand repeated wear and washing.

Excellent Elasticity

Another property of polyester that explains why it enjoys unparalleled popularity in the sports apparel industry is the excellent elasticity it provides.

If you look closely at the molecular structure of polyester, you will notice that it has alternating aliphatic and aromatic compounds. These not only contribute to the durability of this fabric but also give it high tensile strength.

The elasticity of this fiber is close to that of wool. If you stretch it about 5-6%, it will almost fully spring back to its original shape!

You can easily see that sportswear made of polyester will help athletes perform these repetitive movements without encountering any resistance.

What's more, the high tensile strength makes polyester fabrics wrinkle-resistant, meaning they retain their shape and shape with every wash.

To make polyester more tensile, sportswear brands are now mixing it with Lycra (elastase fiber).

Non-Absorbent Fabric

We all know that part of your workout involves sweating. The more intense the practice, the more you will sweat. Now, if you're wearing clothing that absorbs all the sweat your body produces and soaks it in, it can become too wet and uncomfortable. Not a great experience, right?

That's where polyester tracksuits come in! Fibers are inherently hydrophobic. Its moisture regain is as low as 0.4%.

First, moisture regain refers to the weight of water in a given dry-weight material. The lower the value, the less absorbent the material. Compared to fibers such as cotton (MR= 8%) and wool (MR=16%), polyester's rebound value of only 0.4% is clearly very low. Therefore, it generally does not absorb or retain your sweat or water molecules.

Therefore, the sweat produced by your body is not absorbed by the polyester garment. This means the clothes won't stick to you while you're exercising.

Great "Coreability"

Although we have said that polyester has a very low moisture regain value, it has excellent moisture-wicking properties.

What's really happening here is that the polyester has all the moisture (in this case, the sweat your body produces), it doesn't retain it in its fibers (because it has a low water return value).

Instead, it transfers it outside, where it evaporates quickly, leaving your gym clothes completely dry. It's not like absorbs all the sweat and retains it, making your clothes feel bulky and uncomfortable.


The last workout you want to do while wearing a heavy sweatshirt, sweatshirt, or shorts that feel heavy. Not only will this limit your movement, but it will also make your body uncomfortable.

Sportswear brands use polyester fabric for their sportswear because it feels so lightweight that you don't feel heavy. The lighter your clothes, the faster your movements will be.

Final Judgment

If you've been wondering why all the brands involved in sportswear manufacturing prefer polyester over other fabrics, now you've got the answer.

The man-made fabric is durable enough to withstand repeated movement, has excellent stretch to ensure your movement is not restricted, it wicks away moisture, doesn't get soaked in sweat, and feels very light.

The only downside of polyester when used in sportswear is that it lacks antibacterial properties and can make your sportswear smell bad if left unwashed. Some athletes also don't like how it feels on the body. Nonetheless, polyester has excellent properties that make it a top fabric for sportswear! If you want to buy sportswear made of polyester, please contact us.

Yoyoung is a professional custom sportswear manufacturer. We specialize in the manufacture of women's/men's sportswear, and we have worked with hundreds of brands for several years. 100% OEM service, from materials to product design and packaging, you can have all of our possibilities.

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