Elastane / spandex

Everything you need to know

Hello, everyone! I hope you are well! We are so excited to announce our brand-new and first-of-its-kind swimwear collection for the summer of 2023! For now, we will not reveal any of its secrets except for two facts: it is inspired by the 80s style and made of elastane/spandex fabric. In other words, you will have to wait for the official launch of the collection which will be really soon. In this Ecce Homo blog article, we will introduce you to a material that we first used to create this collection, the elastane or spandex fabric! What is the difference between elastane, spandex, and Lycra? What is the story of this fiber? Which are the qualities of elastane? How to best take care of your elastane clothes?

Elastane, spandex or Lycra?

First, let’s tackle the question you’ve all been thinking: elastane, spandex, or Lycra? Are they different types of fabric? Well, no! They are basically the same synthetic fiber made from a segmented block of copolymers in a linear structure. This means that one cannot find this material in nature, and no organic components are used in its making. Elastane or spandex? It depends on the geographical area you live in. Elastane is a term mostly used in Europe, while spandex is elastane’s synonym mostly used in the USA.  In other words, the term used varies regionally. Lycra is more or less the same fiber with similar traits, a type of elastane or spandex which is branded by the DuPont Corporation and serve as their registered trademark.

The story of elastane

When it comes to the history of this manmade fiber, things are getting more interesting! Its story begins in one of the darkest times of history, in 1937 in Nazi Germany. The long-chain polymer of which is made, named polyurethane, was invented by Otto Bayer and his associates at the IG Farben plant at Leverkusen as an alternative to natural rubber which was hard to get and pricey at the time. Initially, polyurethane was made into plastic and used by the Nazis in their military machine, especially as a coating for fighter planes as it functions like a shock and heat insulator. It was only after WWII that polyurethane was used for apparel by the DuPont Corporation which developed in 1959 the well-known Lycra fabric after noticing the extreme stretchability of this material. Nowadays, elastane or spandex is produced by many companies around the world, especially in the USA, China, India, Brazil, and Pakistan. 

The characteristics of elastane

If elastane is famous for one thing, this would be none other than its extreme stretchability as it can be stretched more than 500% of its length! Elastic as it is, it offers a great recovery back to its initial form without losing its original shape, while providing a good fit, great flexibility, and an excellent range of motion. As a fiber, elastane also has hydrophobic qualities which means that it repels water well. It is also lightweight, soft against the skin, highly breathable, and resistant to wrinkles, abrasion, and pilling. More importantly, it is a durable and resilient material as it is resistant to detergents, lotions, body oils, chlorine, saltwater, suncream, and heat, while it holds its dye well despite repeated use. Finally, it is the perfect material for swimwear or watersports as there is less muscle fatigue on the wearer thanks to its performance qualities and minimum drag, while it is shape-fitting yet shrink-free and colorfast, and it wicks moisture well! Thanks to these amazing attributes of elastane, it is most commonly combined and mixed with other fibers, like cotton or polyester, and used in a wide range of clothing, such as sportswear, tights, socks, swimsuits, cycling wear, leggings, shorts, yoga pants, motion capture suits, underwear, bras, jerseys, gloves, etc.

How to take care of your Ecce Homo swimwear
As we argued before in a previous blog article, taking good care of one’s most intimate clothes, such as swimwear, that caress one’s body is ultimately both an act of self-care and a gesture of environmental sensibility. After all, following the specific washing guidelines that pertain to each type of fabric not only makes sure that one’s favorite items would be as good as new and in perfect shape, but also such a caring prolongs the lifespan of them and, as a result, you save money and practically support Ecce Homo’s slow-fashion and eco-sustainable production model on your end as a consumer. On top of that, even though elastane itself is a synthetic fabric, taking care of it is extremely energy-efficient, as it will become obvious shortly, and consequently, has a low environmental impact in this regard.  In other words, it’s a win-win situation! As mentioned above, elastane fabric is an extremely durable fiber that can take a lot, one of the reasons that make it perfect for swimwear. However, even if opting for elastane swimwear is the care-free choice for your laid-back summer days as this fabric is low-maintenance, this does not mean that you should be care-less! The washing instructions that follow are indicative and in no case exhaust one’s washing options. Here are some useful tips on how to best care for your Ecce Homo swimwear:

  • If extremely dirty, then presoak it! If your swimsuit is really stinky, presoak it in a solution of cool (not hot!) water and one cup of baking soda or some mild liquid detergent for a minimum of 30 minutes before washing as usual. Soaking it overnight is also an option. In general, remove any stains as soon as possible but avoid tenuous scrubbing. In any case, avoid wringing and twisting the fabric.
  • Mesh bags to the rescue! If you want to keep your swimsuit from snagging, then place it in a mesh laundry bag before putting it in your laundry machine. This way you can wash your swimsuit every day -if necessary- without compromising its quality, shape, or color! Handwashing in lukewarm water is the best option, if you have time, but elastane is perfectly machine washable!

  • Keep it low with your swimwear! Set your washing machine to run on a gentle or delicate cycle and a moderate spin setting which uses cool water and avoid using the dryer. Instead, opt for drip- or air- drying but avoid direct sunlight! Since elastane fabric does not easily wrinkle, ironing wouldn’t be necessary, but in case you go for it, please set it at the lowest possible temperature and preferably place a pressing cloth between the garment and the iron or steam it carefully or even hang it in a steamy bathroom!
  • A no-go list: no heat, not chems! Avoid at all costs using fabric softener, strong detergents, and chlorine bleach! Instead, you can use a small amount of white vinegar as a natural fabric softener or oxygen-based bleach. Abstain from using high-heat dryers or ironing and washing programs. High temperature and harsh chemicals weaken and break the fibers and reduce the elasticity of your bathing suit!