5 High Performance Tests for Functional Clothing - How Much Do You Know?

For textiles and garments, you might think that the products have passed several quality and safety tests before they go on the shelves. But do you know what these tests are?

09 December 2016

Testing is an important part of obtaining actual performance data before launching a new product. For general clothing, the basic tests include fiber content, colorfastness, flammability and chemical tests. For high-performance clothing, the tests focus more on the protective, comfort, and easy-care performance of the product to ensure a premium user experience. In addition to the usual tests, high-performance clothing may go through extra detailed functional tests to gauge their anti-static, high-visibility, breathability and weathering properties. Let’s check out the details of these tests.

Anti-static Tests

Static electricity occurs when an electric charge accumulates on an object’s surface, and occurs more often on winter days. Inferior electrostatic properties of textile materials can often lead to an uncomfortable wearing experience. In some environments with flammable or volatile liquids or gases present, static electricity may even pose serious health and safety risks. Direct Measurement of Surface or Vertical Electrical Resistance of textiles is the most ubiquitous test method for evaluating the anti-static performance of textiles. The higher the surface/vertical electrical resistance, the greater the charge accumulating on the fabric surface and the worse the corresponding anti-static performance.

High Visibility Color Tests

High-visibility colors refer to fluorescent colors or neon colors that can be easily detected, even in low-light conditions. For reasons of public safety, these colors are widely used in clothing by emergency services, for personal safety applications, and for other professional reasons. Hunter Orange, or Blaze Orange, is also a high-visibility color used in hunting clothing designed to prevent wearers from accidentally shooting each other. By measuring the chromaticity coordinates, brightness and color difference, the test verifies whether the claimed color complies with fluorescent color requirements.

Retroreflective Materials Test

The Retroreflective Materials Test is another high-visibility test designed to indicate the presence of the wearer. The test procedure and requirements are based on high-visibility clothing and accessories. The test measures the coefficient of retroreflection of retroreflective materials that do not qualify for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) certification.

Breathability Tests

Water-vapor permeability indicates the breathable performance of textiles, and is a measure of the passage of water vapor through materials. The proper selection and manufacture of materials with high water-vapor permeability can assure comfort for the wearer, especially during outdoor activities. The Permeable Cup Method and Sweating Guarded Hotplate Method are the most common tests for breathability performance, and the tests must be performed under specific conditions of temperature and humidity.

Weathering Tests

Textiles and fabrics under exposure conditions, such as solar irradiance, temperature and moisture, can often sustain fading, color change, surface erosion, loss of gloss and numerous other deteriorations. Weathering Testing for textiles can ensure your apparel and fashion fabrics retain their original colors against various environmental impacts and survive outdoors. There are three testing methods: Xenon Arc Light & Moisture Exposure, UV Light & Moisture Exposure, and Hot Air Exposure which reproduce the weathering effects that occur when textiles are exposed to sunlight, UV light, rain and other high-moisture environments during actual use.

As a smart consumer, it pays for you to pay more attention when shopping for high-performance clothing. Check product details, such as fiber content, on the labels, as well as the functionality of the product, and see how those functions meet your specific needs and requirements.