The Performance T Shirt
The signature performance t shirt is the lifeblood of a premium activewear brand. It sets the tone for every other product, and although t shirts on the surface appear simple, they’re often one of the hardest products to get right. Over time, we’ve discovered just why the performance t shirt is so hard to get right.
Firstly, our approach to simplicity means that we don’t rely on heavy branding, slogans or graphics. Actually, our Onyx performance t shirt only has three main elements; the fabric, thread and bonded tape. Here in lies the difficulty. Each one of these elements has to be perfect to make sure it lives up to its value.
As always, fabric is right at the core of what we do. The study of material is something we invest heavily in, keeping up with the latest innovations in yarns, fabrics, treatments and sustainability. We knew that a performance t shirt had to stand up to the rigours of intense training, whether that was in the gym, running, or whatever activity life throws at us.
Our first thought was to turn to the properties needed most to support high-intensity training. The fabric had to meet four main criteria;
- Moisture wicking
We needed a knit fabric that was light and breathable, and so we turned to Europe. Sportwear Argentona is a Spanish mill which specialises in technical knits. We felt like the performance t shirt of many sportswear brands on the market followed the same sort of spec, and we wanted to redefine the idea of lightness and performance.
This meant turning to a mesh which weighed just 90 grams. We quickly found out why mesh is often reserved for liners rather than base layers. After dyeing the fabric and sampling the product, it was see-through. Back to the drawing board. Fortunately, our designer at the time came up with a genius plan; print the colour on white fabric rather than dye the yarn. The process of sublimation is nothing new, but it allows you to print the colour on the face and the back side of the fabric using a digital printer. It worked, completely eliminating the sheerness whilst maintaining 100% of the breathability.
Breathability is just one piece of the puzzle, however. Finding a fabric which is impervious to odour is just as important, especially during intense exercise. We turned to pioneers in the textile technology industry, Swiss based firm HeiQ. Working alongside Sportwear Argentona, they implemented their HeiQ Fresh treatment throughout the yarn used in our mesh fabric. The silver-free treatment absorbs the odour-causing bacteria, completely eliminating all smell from the garment. The treatment also regenerates after every wash, so no matter how long you have the Onyx, it should always be free of odour.
Moving onto comfort. For us, comfort is defined as a product or fabric that you feel comfortable in, but is crucially designed to function as intended. The function part was covered through the fabric’s lightness, breathability and technical properties. The only thing needed was stretch. Added elastane provided the stretch needed to move with the body, providing the comfort needed to tackle workout after workout.
Although this is the material study, it’s important to note the main trim, our thread. A performance t shirt undergoes workout after workout, wash after wash, and each element has to hold up. We partnered with Gütermann, the leading premium thread supplier in Germany to source our thread. The Mara thread can be seen in our signature T-panel, and through testing, we found it to be the very best in the industry.
Material study aims to provide an insight into one the most important elements of technical garments. If you want to keep up to date with insight and education about our design choices, fabric, innovation and more, sign up to our newsletter.