Cooling effects

The Triple Chill Effect fabric technology from brrr° is being used in a growing range of products and the company is planning to enhance the technology through further development of its cooling minerals. Fiona Haran finds out more.

Busy, active lifestyles coupled with the ongoing climate crisis that continues to dominate the headlines are driving the demand for innovative cooling solutions in all aspects of our daily lives. And, as textiles are omnipresent, they naturally make a great vehicle for administering such solutions. Feeling cool and comfortable in whatever activity we’re doing heightens our overall wellbeing and performance. So, with this in mind, the American company brrr°, based in Atlanta, Georgia, set out to explore how textiles can be enhanced to meet this need. Founded in 2014 by Mary-Cathryn Kolb, a retail industry expert who has worked for apparel brands such as Spanx and Von Dutch, brrr° developed a proprietary cooling fabric technology that can be integrated into any existing fabric to bring immediate and continuous cooling. To do so, a secret blend of natural minerals is embedded into the yarn itself to become a permanent part of the fabric that, unlike coatings or sprays, doesn’t wash out over time.

cooling dress
Southern Tide Women’s Dress

Explaining the process in more detail, Mary Jane Credeur, a spokesperson for brrr°, says: “We begin by adding our secret blend of minerals into the nylon or polyester pellets, which are extruded as yarn that is then turned into fabric. Our cooling minerals are permanent and part of the structure of the yarn. Under a microscope you can actually see the little mineral speckles.” The cooling feature is combined with wicking and rapid drying technology to form what brrr° calls the Triple Chill Effect. For instance, brrr° nylon and brrr° polyester are described as ‘cool to the touch’ with more chill than comparable competitors, according to the company, which adds that the wicking technology moves moisture away from the skin, for ‘non-stop comfort’, and the quick drying capability rapidly releases moisture into the air, cooling the fabric and providing a ‘fresh and crisp’ experience. To realise the potential of the technology, brrr° has several ‘go-to’ mill partners in Taiwan which are considered a part of its R&D team. All brrr° products are tested by independent labs to prove their effectiveness. For instance, tests conducted last year by Intertek found that brrr° nylon and polyester fabrics consistently outperformed numerous other comparable products in lab tests that measure Qmax (cool to the touch feeling), wicking and dry time. “For years, a lot of the apparel manufacturers claimed that their products were cooling but they were just wicking, they didn’t actually draw away heat per se,” says Credeur. “Some products you have to get wet before they cool, and that’s not very practical. The science behind it, that’s our pedigree. It’s not just a gimmick that’s going to wear out over time like sprays or coatings do.”

An obvious application for the technology is activewear and outdoor wear, where users are prone to working up a sweat, but the end uses span various elements of a consumer’s wardrobe and lifestyle. And, as an ingredient brand, brrr° has garnered interest from a range of retailers and manufacturers looking to integrate the cooling fabric technology into their collections. Products featuring the technology include women’s blouses from ADAY, performance socks from Bigfoot Sock Co., Bermuda shorts from Coral Coast Clothing, the Guide workout T-shirt from Greyson, technically advanced shirts for commuters from Kit and Ace, men’s blazers from Mizzen+Main, caps and hats from The Game, and a range of casual clothing from Southern Tide, such as women’s dresses and men’s polo shirts. In addition, retailer JoS. A. Bank uses brrr° suit liners. Credeur says: “A lot of our launches have been casual polo shirts, so not just outdoor wear, but also casual weekend wear, office wear, dress shirts, linings of suits, and undergarments. We’re really starting to get traction with national and international retailers, and we’re in talks with a few co-branded partners. Plus, we have a new line launching with CAT Workwear from Caterpillar – an outdoor, rugged apparel line.” Home textiles are another key end use, particularly bed sheets. “There tends to be more demand around things you actually touch and interact with,” says Credeur. “Sheets are an obvious one, as memory foam mattresses make you sweat a little bit more. Women who are menopausal or pre-menopausal tend to appreciate that a lot. We think that someday we’ll get some demand from sofa material coverings and fabric for upholstery. And we have been in talks with auto manufacturers for car seat materials.”

The company has also integrated its cooling fabric technology into denim, with successful results. It states on the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC)’s fashion blog that independent lab tests show brrr° denim feels 38% cooler to the touch than comparable traditional denim, dries up to 47% faster and wicks 2.5 times better. And aside from this, brrr° has taken steps in the energy harvesting field, having received a patent using piezoelectrics technology. “Somewhere down the road you may be able to stick a device in your back pocket and charge it from your clothing,” says Credeur, who adds that the company hasn’t actioned the patent just yet but considers it a “cool technology to explore.” Micro minerals of any kind are bound to raise questions over their safety to human health and the environment, but Credeur assures that the minerals used by brrr° are safe. “Our proprietary mineral blend is not reactive and absorbed by skin at all,” she says. “It’s an organic material but it’s combined with a man-made one, blending into this master batch as it gets produced. Its behaviour is no different to any other polyester or nylon or base material.”

cooling shirt
The Greyson Guide Sport Tee is the perfect blend of a high performing workout tee and a classic daily basic.

The technology has also found itself being used in recycled fabrics. “We do have GRS [Global Recycle Standard] certified suppliers of recycled yarns,” says Credeur. “We buy yarn that has recycled material in it and integrate brrr° technology into it as part of the manufacturing process. There’s a lot of talk and interest in recycled material and, with some brands that are very forward thinking, they tend to be hungrier for that technology. They’re also willing to pay more as it’s a premium product.” Credeur reveals that brrr° is planning to enhance the technology to increase the surface area of the minerals effectively and amplify the cooling effects. “We’re exploring some new dispersion technologies, how we blend the minerals, and how we integrate the minerals with the actual yarn in the first place,” she says. “If you can increase the surface area, you can directly improve the effect of the cooling minerals.” She adds: “Down the road there will be additional hiring and additional fundraising to grow.” This is particularly important as there are educational hurdles to overcome with brrr° technology to explain to retailers and consumers how and why it’s better than previous generation technologies that claimed to be cooling but were ‘really just wicking.’ “The challenge is being able to capture the attention and articulate the benefits quickly in a way that people can understand how it’s different and why it’s different, and how the science works,” says Credeur. “It’s about getting our name out there,” she adds. “People want clothing that does something more for them – they want comfort, they want it to wick and to dry quickly. We see ourselves as part of the solution – the planet is not getting any cooler.”

Original Article: Wtin