Three facts you didn’t know about the fabrics worn by Olympic athletes

Maor Yur
July 26, 2021

Last Friday, the best athletes in the world start their competition in a wide range of sports for the dream of winning the one medal that means the most.

Garments play a key role in the success of athletes, and at an event such as the Olympics, every tiny detail can make or break a record. To better understand the meaning of designing Olympic outfits, here are three fascinating facts you probably didn’t know.

Performance-boosting fabrics

Choosing the right fabric for an outfit affects the athlete’s performance far more than you might expect. Take, for example, the case of the Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit. The special swimsuit, which is made of woven elastane-nylon and polyurethane, enables better oxygen flow, improved hydrodynamic position, and flexibility, and decreased resistance. These factors are made possible thanks to small yet impactful details, such as vertical stitches, water-repelling materials, and more.

The swimsuit helps competitive swimmers boost their performance so much that in the Beijing Olympics, 94% of all swimming medal winners were wearing it and it contributed to 23 of 25 new world records. Unfortunately for Speedo, this level of success raised a few eyebrows, which led to the establishment of a new rule banning the suit for fear of “technological doping.”

Breaking records, not rules

Speaking of rules, it’s interesting to see how the regulatory aspect of Olympic outfits has evolved over the years. The times were different when women first began participating in sports competitions and separate sets of rules addressed their garments of choice. One of the more famous rules was nicknamed “The Katarina Rule,” stating that Olympic skaters must wear a skirt covering their hips and should not reveal their midriffs.

These bans were lifted in 2003, but even now, garments must be “modest, dignified and appropriate.” We can expect to see this and other regulations shift again in the future, as the idea of telling women what to wear is rightfully becoming a thing of the past. Those who have been working in the fashion and textile industry long enough know that rules, regulations, and approvals reflect the current social climate (and protect the environmental one).

The mind of a winner

If you ask us, every Olympic athlete is a superhero. The speed, grace, and dedication demonstrated by these talented stars are practically beyond human. But as it turns out, sometimes it takes a special kind of outfits to make athletes feel this way themselves.

The 2008 U.S. track and field athletes chose an outfit that incorporated a stretch of fabric in the shoulder area, making it seem like a cape. The athletes stated that this specific design made them feel like superheroes, which is not at all bad when competing against the best in your category.

It’s important to understand that in addition to comfort, beauty, and even performance, the clothes we wear influence our mood and state of mind. Sometimes, the smallest design adjustments can help us achieve better results.

Stay tuned as we continue to share insights on the fashionable side of sports. Meanwhile, we invite you to learn how the Kornit Avalanche Poly Pro produces the best athletic wear with a unique solution for polyester printing.