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Material technology advancements and effects on industry. (Natural vs Synthetics)

ChaoSki

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Hi Everyone, long time lurker here.

It seems like clothing technology (especially sports/athletics) advancements have been quite large in recent years. On my personal end it (besides investments into companies) when it comes to my outdoor wear (hiking, running, backpacking, # of sports) it has gotten to a point where I simply refuse to buy any natural materials. All of my wool and cotton gear has been replaced. Almost seems like the old breathing/venting benefits of the natural materials are not only out the window but the balance has swayed towards synthetics. I'm guessing this will only get better with time, but time will tell.

When it comes to none athletic wear, I'm curious if we are at a point where the industry will be changing as well. Noticed it's getting harder (for me at least) to be able to tell the difference between naturals and synthetic materials. I'm no expert, but curious if you guys are able to spot the difference right away or if it's becoming hard when it comes to dress pants/suits?

I've been talking to people in the office, friends and my clients about this and was a bit surprised. Many seem to be purchasing and wearing synthetics vs wool/natural material. Price is a big factor but some people I spoke with simply prefer synthetic blends at this point. I tend to wear natural materials on occasion/formal basis and always lean to synthetics for daily wear (dress pants) outside of Khakis/Chinos. Mostly for # of reasons: seem to breath better, looks as good, feels good and price. I find natural materials WAY to delicate and quite costly. At times I'm simply scared to wear them. My daily abuse simply have ruined # of natural clothing articles in the past.

Then there is cleaning, # of my synthetic pants have held up extremely well to dry cleaning and even some "borderline" ironing abuse. My parents own Dry Cleaning business and seem to lean to synthetics holding up well with dry cleaning vs natural fibers. Funny, because even Suit Supply Sales said "do NOT dry clean" when I picked up a new wool suit few days ago.

So I'm curious about the general consensus in the forum. Based on what I've read, anything not natural is a big no no and "looks cheap" etc.

What are your Pros and Cons to Natural vs Synthetics based on your experience?

Have you tried newer synthetic products lately?
 

GBR

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Synthetics have their place but I think that your eulogy is entirely misplaced. A plastic suit will always look what it is - a synthetic piece of plastic.

Pure new wool suits are superior to any recycled water bottle both in appearance and wearability. One can spot the difference at ten paces and I doubt that any tailor worthy of the name would have plastic on offer to his customers.
 

ChaoSki

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Synthetics have their place but I think that your eulogy is entirely misplaced. A plastic suit will always look what it is - a synthetic piece of plastic.
How exactly can you spot the difference or tell the difference. Most people I speak to struggle, even those that wear natural materials/high quality.

I'm trying to learn.

Pure new wool suits are superior to any recycled water bottle both in appearance and wearability. One can spot the difference at ten paces and I doubt that any tailor worthy of the name would have plastic on offer to his customers.
Carbon Fiber is also plastic, yet it's becoming superior to METAL.

We are not talking tailors here. Please explain how you spot the difference because I'm trying to learn.
 

Patek14

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where I simply refuse to buy any natural materials. All of my wool and cotton gear has been replaced. Almost seems like the old breathing/venting benefits of the natural materials are not only out the window but the balance has swayed towards synthetics.
I completely disagree with much of what you've said. Synthetic Materials have 1 advantage - They are Cheap.

Natural Materials breath better. Synthetics retain smells. While synthetic might have intrinsic wrinkle resistance, 100% washable wool pants have similar wrinkle resistance and shed smell infinitely better.

Natural leather product versus synthetic upper materials or CG leather which is basically synthetic does not breathe at all and turns feet into takes. Synthetic insides succh as fiberboard wear and crack much sooner. Synthetic shoes will not last nearly as long as well made natural shoes.

The only advantage of Synthetic over natural might be a Dainite Sole vs. a Leather Sole, but that is a poor apples to oranges comparison.
 

ChaoSki

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Natural Materials breath better. Synthetics retain smells. While synthetic might have intrinsic wrinkle resistance, 100% washable wool pants have similar wrinkle resistance and shed smell infinitely better.
I don't agree with this at all.

All my synthetic clothes (mostly hiking) breath WAY better than wool or cotton. It's not even a close contest anymore. I've used wool socks (winter hiking), wool sweatshirts and cotton for years.

Retaining smell is a none issue after wash.

Natural leather product versus synthetic upper materials or CG leather which is basically synthetic does not breathe at all and turns feet into takes. Synthetic insides succh as fiberboard wear and crack much sooner. Synthetic shoes will not last nearly as long as well made natural shoes.
When it comes to leather and shoes, you have a point. But durability on vinyl has come a long way too. There is a good reason public transportation uses vinyl, durability is as good if not better than leather. ;)
 

BenjaminZeev

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I can see the point that tech is getting better, but so are sheep. Sheep may be nearing their limit and nanotechnology could theoretically produce fibers suitable and superior for clothing, but I don't see it happening on a large scale soon. And then there are genetic modifications that can be done, like what has been done to goats (making their milk contain spider silk protein)... Don't forget that fibers are only part of the issue, and most advancements in the weaving, drafting, cutting, measuring... will help both.
 

GBR

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How exactly can you spot the difference or tell the difference. Most people I speak to struggle, even those that wear natural materials/high quality.

I'm trying to learn.



Carbon Fiber is also plastic, yet it's becoming superior to METAL.

We are not talking tailors here. Please explain how you spot the difference because I'm trying to learn.
Just trouble yourself to look at wool versus recycled water bottles, the drape, the feel are quite different. Carbon fibre is irrelevant in this debate, its properties versus aluminium or steel are NOT mirrored in clothing.

Tailors are very relevant, your cutter and his tailors actually make the suit and the cloth in play lends itself to a better garment in the hands of your cutter. How it drapes for example, the two materials are not comparable and no amount of chastising recycled bottles can change that. Any suit demands considerable work with the iron and interaction with a proper canvas and plastic will simply not react in the same manner.

Technology is also advancing and a lightweight wool is ideal for hot climes - have you considered Dormeuil Tecnik for example or is this an armchair exercise.
 

ChaoSki

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I can see the point that tech is getting better, but so are sheep. Sheep may be nearing their limit and nanotechnology could theoretically produce fibers suitable and superior for clothing, but I don't see it happening on a large scale soon.
I thought it was already happening on a large scale when it comes to clothing. Perhaps not dress clothes.

And then there are genetic modifications that can be done, like what has been done to goats (making their milk contain spider silk protein)... Don't forget that fibers are only part of the issue, and most advancements in the weaving, drafting, cutting, measuring... will help both.
Agreed
 

Patek14

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I cant believe some random person who knows nothing comes here, makes up a bunch of crap and argues with people who actually know what they are talking about.

do you dress yourself from wal mart?
 

ChaoSki

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I cant believe some random person who knows nothing comes here, makes up a bunch of crap and argues with people who actually know what they are talking about.

do you dress yourself from wal mart?
Thanks for your kind words.
 

breakaway01

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I actually find this an interesting discussion. I am an active cyclist, downhill skier, and hiker/backpacker. Synthetic fabrics have dramatically changed clothing for these types of activities, particularly in the area of water/wind resistance. There is no question that a hardshell jacket made of nylon with a waterproof/breathable membrane and a DWR coating beats waxed cotton or wool in a downpour. Synthetics are generally easier to clean and maintain, and many synthetic garments are lighter than their equivalents in natural materials. Still, wool and down remain excellent insulators and have their followers.

On the other hand, the advantages of modern synthetics for outdoor use are diminished for tailored clothing. A suit, for example, does not need to be cleaned nearly as often, nor is resistance to the elements as relevant. There are plenty of open-weave wool and linen fabrics that IMO breathe quite well. I do think there is probably an element of tradition in tailored menswear that contributes to the slow uptake of synthetics in classic menswear. GBR makes a good point that traditional tailoring techniques exploit properties of natural materials (ironwork being a big one, to selectively stretch and shrink parts of a garment) that don't hold for synthetics, though I don't believe that this is a technically unsolvable problem.

Still, synthetics have made inroads into urban wear (e.g. Arc'teryx Veilance), much of which is wearable in the business casual environment.
 
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ChaoSki

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I actually find this an interesting discussion. I am an active cyclist, downhill skier, and hiker/backpacker. Synthetic fabrics have dramatically changed clothing for these types of activities, particularly in the area of water/wind resistance. There is no question that a hardshell jacket made of nylon with a waterproof/breathable membrane and a DWR coating beats waxed cotton or wool in a downpour. Synthetics are generally easier to clean and maintain, and many synthetic garments are lighter than their equivalents in natural materials. Still, wool and down remain excellent insulators and have their followers.
Thank you for your reply and I agree 100%

Noticed that even sleeping bags are getting excellent on the synthetic end. The only downside at this point is weight not being compact, both which might be addressed in the near future. That's probably the only reason Down is still use throughout the backpacking community.

I actually converted to Synthetic comforter at home for bedding (as weight and size is a none factor). They are SO much better in every aspect. Easy to wash, doesn't bunch up in corners, breathes better etc. We love it, just needs a nice duvet cover. It's also 1/10th the price hehe. I believe we have a 20 or 30 degree Wenzel we bought about 8 years ago for like $40 bucks. We have 2 we use for home and camping (we double up in winter months).

We went thru 5+ down comforters over the years.....not going back

On the other hand, the advantages of modern synthetics for outdoor use are diminished for tailored clothing. A suit, for example, does not need to be cleaned nearly as often, nor is resistance to the elements as relevant. There are plenty of open-weave wool and linen fabrics that IMO breathe quite well. I do think there is probably an element of tradition in tailored menswear that contributes to the slow uptake of synthetics in classic menswear. Still, synthetics have made inroads into urban wear (e.g. Arc'teryx Veilance), much of which is wearable in the business casual environment.
Agreed. Again, more people I talk to about the subject the more I find that synthetics are already being utilized and worn throughout Business community.

What I do notice is that people are reluctant/hesitant to talk about it. It seems like there is a stigma when it comes to synthetic materials (it's very clear in this forum).
 

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