Hybrids – Engineered & Composed Through All Layers

Everyone is talking about hybrids. They are a “must-have” in every apparel brand’s collection. It’s time to make clear up what makes hybrid yarns, hybrid fabrics, and hybrid clothing so different. What functional properties are demanded and how are they evaluated? What role does intelligent clothing physiology (body temperature, body climate, heat & cold exchange) play? What happens when the body overheats?

The November 2016 Focus Topic “Hybrids – engineered & constructed layer by layer” provides all the facts and figures to help you remember what is important, for example, the key criteria such as kind of sport, function, body zones and body temperatures, ambient conditions, etc. in the development of a garment. The general pitfalls to be aware of are also covered.

Hybrids in (Sports-) Clothing

Definition and idea

Hybrid Yarns

Multiple functions are united in one yarn by mixing more than two fibers in one yarn.
Example: Polyester + Wool

Fiber blends in yarns have always been part of standard textiles. Many functions and blends have already been described in the flyer for the November 2015 Focus Topic: „Athleisure - Rethinking Performance Knits.“

Hybrid Fabrics

Multiple functions are united in one fabric by creating more than two different zones in one fabric.
Example: Engineered fabrics, woven or knit jacquard patterns

To benefit from these zones without any uncomfortable seams, a brand new development is underway: hybrid fabrics. Hybrids are created using special fabric designs. Several finished products and some inspiring concepts are shown on the Jury’s Pick Table. Woven and knitted jacquards patterns.

Hybrid Garments

Multiple different fabrics are united in one garment by combining different layers/categories of fabric in one garment.
Example: Jacket with down padding and softshell

The third variant, hybrid garments, can often be seen in retail stores already as jackets that have insulating panels made of down or synthetic insulations on the chest or back while using lightweight breathable fabrics for the underarms and inner side of the sleeves. Hybrid garments demand precision cuts and detail processing of the seams because some fabrics have to be combined that may have different thicknesses and elastic properties.

Functional properties?

Categories and standards

* Explanation of the various standards
AATCC: American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists
AS/NZ: Australian Standards and New Zealand Standards
DIN: Deutsches Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardization)
EN: European Standards
GB/T: Chinese National Standards JIS: Japan Industrial Standard
ISO: International Organization for Standardization
ASTM: American Society for Testing and Materials

A question of zones?
Body Physiology and comfort

Intelligent clothing physiology

Sport clothing must provide good wearing comfort in any situation. Clothing physiology can help to achieve this. It is the science of the purposeful design of functional clothing. The body‘s physiologic processes should receive optimal support. Particularly important for sport textiles is the thermo-physiological comfort that ensures an optimal body climate. The body temperature should be kept nearly constant, regardless of whether the athlete is in an active phase or a resting phase. The textile must provide sufficient thermal insulation against the cold and, in a warm environment or when performing a strenuous activity, aid in cooling the body by keeping perspiration away and transporting it out to the surface environment.

Thermophsiology: Body Temperature

Maintaining a constant body climate

The principle of thermal regulation is to keep the core body temperature as close to 37°C (98.6 °F) as possible. If it is less, there is a risk of under cooling (Hypothermia/blue in the graphic), if higher, you risk over heating (Hyperthermia/red in the graphic). In case of a high core body temperature and/or high environmental temperatures, the body starts to sweat as the mechanism for reducing the body temperature; if the temperature is low, the skin temperature of the extremities is reduced to protect the core torso. Both overheating and under cooling can lead to health problems for the athlete.

Heat and cold exchange

Every person produces heat in the organs and muscles. The body likes a comfortable and stable temperature. But heat is lost through conduction, convection, radiation, and evaporation. Under certain conditions functional clothing should retain or even generate heat until a certain level. But at certain point as humans, functional clothing should start to transport the heat away from the body, so that the skin remains pleasant dry feeling on the skin and does not becomes too sweaty.

The stages of overheating

The sweat glands’ cooling effect

Soles of the feet approx. 370 sweat glands per cm²
Palms of the hands approx. 360 sweat glands per cm²
Stomach and chest approx. 150-200 sweat glands per cm²
Forehead approx. 140-170 sweat glands per cm²
Arms and elbows approx. 130-150 sweat glands per cm²
Armpits approx. 120-160 sweat glands per cm²
Thighs approx. 50-100 sweat glands per cm²
Buttocks and lower back approx. 50-80 sweat glands per cm²


Thermal regulation is fundamentally the same in all (adult) people; nevertheless, there are differences between men and women; the hormonal cycle alone accounts for some of this in women. In the development of comfortable clothing, clothing physiology is almost always based on the „standard man.“ Very little research has been dedicated to thermal regulation in women, although now would be an appropriate time to deal with it.
Modern, hybrid sport clothing applies this knowledge to provide optimal support to your body.

Source: PERFORMANCE DAYS would like to thank Silke Off, Head of the Laboratory of Clothing Physiology, Hohenstein for her support!

Engineering hybrids?

Advantages & Challenges

Hybrids are engineered for various reasons: different sports, different locations with different temperatures, and in particular, different muscles in different body zones responsible for different phases of activity. This diversity, unfortunately, makes it impossible to have a standard recipe for designing a hybrid, but there are some key questions and some pitfalls:

  • What zones are relevant for your activity?
  • The drawing on the right might help to locate the zones that are relevant for your outfit.
  • Does the temperature vary a lot between the body and the outside environment?
    Or, is the body temperature changing a lot while practicing the sport? The more balanced and constant the body temperature remains, the more effective the muscles work. When extreme outside temperatures influence the body, the human body reacts by concentrating on balancing its own temperature and is not as effective as when  operating under more balanced conditions.
  • What properties/functions are important for your specific exercise/intended use?
    For example, the upper body, especially in the area of the chest and stomach is more sensitive to cold temperatures. Depending on the type of activity, rain falls first on the  shoulders, the upper back, and outside of the sleeves. Although most sweat pores are located  on the armpits, the perspiration quickly spreads to other areas as well.
  • How can I smartly combine the intended properties and zones?
    One approach is to use the body zones illustrated on the right and to mark the categories  from “FUNCTIONAL PROPERTIES? CATEGORIES AND STANDARDS” Wetness (water repellency, water proofness, moisture management), Protection (high abrasion resistance, UV protection), Thermal properties (insulation, air permeability, wind proofness, breathability).
  • How are the required properties and functions implemented?
    There are several options, for instance: Hybrid yarn? Functional Treatments? Hybrid fabric?
  • How do I solve the seam problems when combining different fabrics in one hybrid garment?

Important! Never forget these general pitfalls

Exhibitor List March 2024