I hate being cold. As our Neanderthal ancestors wrapped animal skins around themselves to keep out the glacial cold, the human race has tried for millions of years to keep comfortable. Over the years various fabrics and animal hairs have proven to be quite effective. What people insist on is having warmth and protection against the elements like rain plus most people want to be fashionable. Of course “fashion” really has to do with showing status and other complex social issues which I’m not going to delve into. Here, I’m only interested in the technology in making fabrics light, comfortable, warm, and easy to care for.
A few years ago I discovered fleece. It’s Very light and surprisingly warm without being stiffling. In other words it lets you “breath”. If you wrapped a plastic bag around yourself you would keep your body heat inside the enclosure but you would also sweat like crazy. Very uncomfortable! There’s various animal hairs like wool which have these breathing properties. My personal problem with wool is that right against my skin it feel itchy. But it does keep you warm! What I love about fleece it that it’s got all those tiny hairs which trap body heat but is INCREDIBLY soft. Now, I’m not here to “sell” fleece. I don’t have any stock in the company (Unfortunately). But you can’t wear fleece everywhere. What if you need to be more dressed up?
Avelana and Roudiere – a French fabric house – have been working on The Next Big Thing. They aren’t creating a new fabric. They have spent some years developing “nano technology” to glue onto existing fabric, enhancing it’s capabilities.
Microcapsules are grafted to a fabric. The magic voodoo in the microcapsules becomes solid when in a cold environment and turns liquid when in a warm environment. This translates to making the fabric feel warmer to the wearer when he or she is out in cold weather. And the wearer feels cooler in a warm climate.
The Klimeo thermo-regulating fabric can be used with any pure or mixed wool fabrics. Australian Wool Innovation who help sheep make Australian Merino wool have been working on the KLIMEO project with Avelana and Roudiere. You wouldn’t be able to tell the clothes were “nano-enhanced” just by looking. It would look like normal wool suits. But you should be able to feel it! The basic difference is that you wouldn’t have to bulk up to commute to work. Just throw on your suit and be comfortable outside waiting for a train and just as comfortable when inside your office. It actually seems a bit freaky. One gets so used to “bundling up” – it’s psychological as well as physical. But once you get over the idea that you might not be wearing enough, it will become normal. I’ve noticed I wear less with fleece. This new nano fabric will result in a similar reaction. The only thing that worries me is the itch.