Cooling Fabrics Are Becoming Really Cool by John McCurry

Companies involved in the development of fabrics that achieve a cooling effect are proliferating in the U.S. to meet demands by apparel makers and other manufacturers.

Some use unique construction to achieve cooling while others employ some kind of chemical additive. These products, most of which have been developed over the past few years, are advancing all along the supply chain, from fiber to chemical manufacturers to fabric developers.

Founded in 2014, Brrr is an Atlanta-based startup cooling-fabric company whose chemical-free technology is embedded into garments at the nanotech level.

Cofounder and Chief Executive Mary-Cathryn Kolb said Brrr’s technology is superior because it doesn’t involve chemicals. She is one of the inventors of the technology, which came about from research done at the University of Georgia, the University of Kentucky and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Most cooling fabrics, she noted, are a lot of hype with the mechanics behind it being moisture wicking. Other ventures dip fabrics into chemicals, which are applied to the surface.

But Brrr’s technology has an all-natural mineral compound that acts as the cooling agent. “In suits or sheets or blankets, we feel we can do better and make them more comfortable and more pleasing in our everyday life,” Kolb said. “It’s part of the DNA of the fibers. They never wash out and never diminish.”

The company is currently producing fabric for men’s suits, women’s dresses, men’s dress shirts, undershirts, socks, underwear and bedding.

Brrr’s fabrics have achieved high ratings in tests conducted by the Hohenstein Institute in Germany, and the company was asked to be a charter member of Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, a nonprofit institute near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, which is trying to bring back manufacturing to the United States.

Also in the cooling-fabric business is Po­lartec, the longtime company known for its Delta product. Karen Beattie, the product manager who drove Delta’s development, said it is different because it helps provide real metabolic cooling for the life of the garment. She asserts that other technologies provide temporary or sensorial cooling or they can wash out over the life of a garment.

“It’s based on science, but it’s simple,” Beattie said. “Use fiber choice and fabric construction to amplify what our bodies do naturally to provide cooling. Evaporative cooling is the single biggest way our bodies dump excess heat when we sweat. We’ve constructed a fabric with hydrophilic yarns that hold just the right amount of sweat on your skin to experience prolonged evaporative cooling. The fabric also employs raised knit structures and highly breathable hydrophobic areas so you never get that clammy, sticky-shirt feeling.”

Delta products became commercially available for Spring 2017. Brands that have adopted it include OiselleRhoneOutdoor Research and Fox Racing in the U.S. These are specialists in running, cycling and training garments.

In the fiber category, Israel-based Nilit is among the cool-category pioneers with its Breeze technology. The nylon 6,6 fiber came to the market about four years ago.

Molly Kremidas, the marketing manager at Nilit North America, said the goal with Breeze is to achieve comfort through moisture management. She said it is consistent with trends of lighter fabrics.

“We do create our own polymer with an additive inside the polymer that we can’t disclose,” Kremidas explained. “We developed this. We went to a laboratory in Belgium [Centexbel Textile Research Center] for testing. There’s not really a true standard in the industry right now on how to measure cooling.”

Breeze yarns feature a flat cross-section structure with a wide surface that transfers body heat. Kremidas said initial tests showed that Breeze resulted in a temperature change on the surface of 1-degree centigrade.

That was enough to impress two performance-apparel brands. Fast-forwarding a few years, ExOfficio launched a line using Breeze in both tops and bottoms. It’s also used in Adidas’ Climachill products, in Puma shoes and in Playtex intimate apparel. Kremidas notes that it has applications in knits, warp knits and wovens.

Coolcore, a company headquartered in Portsmouth, N.H., has been around a little longer, having been launched in 2011.

It is different in that its cooling effects are achieved by fabric construction rather than chemicals. Coolcore’s first products were cooling towels and ice wraps for medical uses, but it has gradually moved into an array of fabrics used in performance apparel.

The technology dates back to 2008 and was discovered purely by accident, said Kevin McCarthy, the company’s chief executive.

Coolcore’s chief technology officer, while working at Malden Mills on sublimation fabric for printing, discovered that the fabric evaporated moisture and created a cooling effect. This technology eventually became the basis for Coolcore.

Coolcore has working arrangements with a couple of mills to produce fabrics to its specifications. Either Coolcore or the mills buy specific yarns, and the mills either knit or weave the fabrics.


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“brrrº” It’s Cold in Here, It Must be our Fabric in the Atmosphere

Grab a jacket, we are going into the Triple Chill Effect, the power behind brrrº’s technology.

The science behind brrrº's permanent cooling is three-fold called the Triple Chill Effect. The permanently cooling technology is a multifold effect consisting of patented natural cooling minerals that are extruded in the core of the fibers. The minerals undergo a reversible endothermic reaction, triggered by body heat.

This cooling is enhanced by the passage of air through the fabric and the air flow is enhanced due to the patented fabric weave and knit structure. The larger pore size in the fabric facilitates and amplifies the cooling effect via air permeability.

The fiber cross-sections allow for better wicking leading to good thermal effusivity. The moisture-wicking capability and quick dry nature of the fabric pulls away the sweat and accelerates the cooling provided by the fabric. brrrº fabrics are proven to not only cool instantaneously but also permanently over time. This cool will never wash away.

The Triple Chill Effect is proven that it works for you all day, every day. Our fabrics go through rigorous testing by global textile labs, we have scientifically proven that brrr° keeps you cooler. Click this link now:


Texworld 2018 Recap

New York City is known to be the city that never sleeps and that is reflected in brrrº’s trip to the TexWorld conference. On the first day, brrrº was pleased with how many people were truly interested in our technology. Once the crowds came and felt our fabrics, especially some of our new innovative fabrics they were really hooked.

The response to brrrº was incredible; everyone had a positive response to our technology. They understood brrrº and our technology, as well as asked questions about it to further their knowledge. They were definitely more curious once they felt the coolness of our fabric. The best response was from a CEO of a clothing line company shrieking at a lady, “this really works!”

Our material scientist, Apurba said her favorite part of the show was “interacting with both big and small businesses in a single show. It is a rare case when an EXPO can provide a holistic experience. We attracted everyone from wholesale buyers, product developers, to entrepreneurs and fashion designers.”

With the show’s atmosphere reflecting New York City, it was full of busy and professional individuals. It was definitely worth our time being there. The positive response from our audience was unbelievable. The trust people showed in our proven technology was special. Here’s to our first conference show and many more!

brrrº's booth from TexWorld was cool and inviting.