Waterproof breathable fabrics: balancing performance and environmental sustainability

Waterproof breathable fabrics: balancing performance and environmental sustainability

Waterproof breathable fabrics have gained huge popularity in a number of applications-including outdoor apparel, workwear and sportswear products-due to the levels of protection and comfort they provide. Today, the variety of waterproof breathable fabrics available is extremely broad, and includes coated textiles and laminates in a variety of fibre compositions. Consumers of waterproof breathable apparel are prepared to pay a premium for the best performing products but the market is not without its challenges. Competition in the market is fierce and there are issues associated with environmental sustainability. In particular, many waterproof breathable fabrics incorporate membranes and/or durable water repellent (DWR) finishes which are associated with chemistries based on polyfluorinated and perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), and these are considered to be harmful to human health and the environment. As a result, there has been significant pressure on manufacturers to develop safer alternatives without compromising on performance. Several companies have risen to the challenge, and a number of these have opted to use bio-based materials or take inspiration from biomimicry in developing environmentally sustainable DWR finishes. Some progress has also been made in developing environmentally sustainable membranes, some of which are made from recycled waste materials. This report provides a wealth of information on recent developments in the market for waterproof breathable fabrics, and discusses the opportunities and challenges facing producers and users. Topics explored in the report include: the development of waterproof breathable constructions; markets for waterproof breathable fabrics and apparel; waterproofness and breathability in performance apparel; testing standards for waterproofness, water repellency and breathability; environmental sustainability; waterproof breathable garments; and applications of waterproof breathable fabrics. The report also provides an outlook for the future and discusses the latest innovations in DWR finishes, waterproof membranes and fabrics, with particular reference to developments from a number of industry leading companies including BenQ Materials, Bolger & O'Hearn, Directa Plus, Evolved by Nature, Green Theme Technologies, HeiQ, Huntsman Textile Effects, The North Face, Ventile, and W L Gore & Associates.


  • SUMMARY
  • INTRODUCTION
  • DEVELOPMENT OF WATERPROOF BREATHABLE CONSTRUCTIONS
  • MARKETS FOR WATERPROOF BREATHABLE FABRICS AND APPAREL
    • Challenges and opportunities in the market for waterproof breathable fabrics
    • LEADING PROVIDERS OF WATERPROOF BREATHABLE FABRICS AND DURABLE WATER REPELLENT (DWR) FINISHES
      • Table Leading providers of waterproof breathable fabrics, membranes and durable water repellent (DWR) finishes and their products, 2020
      • Table Examples of waterproof technologies developed by selected outdoor apparel brands, 2020
  • WATERPROOFNESS AND BREATHABILITY IN PERFORMANCE APPAREL
    • WATERPROOFNESS
    • WATER REPELLENCY
    • BREATHABILITY
  • TESTING STANDARDS FOR WATERPROOFNESS, WATER REPELLENCY AND BREATHABILITY
    • WATERPROOFNESS
      • Table Waterproof ratings and levels of resistance provided
    • WATER REPELLENCY
    • BREATHABILITY
      • Table Correlation between RET values, breathability and comfort
    • STANDARDS USED IN ASSESSING THE PROPERTIES OF WATERPROOF BREATHABLE FABRICS
      • Table Selected standards for assessing the water resistance, water repellency and breathability of textiles, 2020
  • WAYS OF ACHIEVING WATERPROOFNESS AND BREATHABILITY IN PERFORMANCE APPAREL
    • TIGHTLY WOVEN FABRICS
    • WATERPROOF BREATHABLE TECHNOLOGIES
      • Coated fabrics
      • Laminated fabrics
      • Coatings and membranes
    • DURABLE WATER REPELLENT (DWR) FINISHES
  • ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
    • PERFLUORINATED AND POLYFLUORINATED COMPOUNDS (PFCS) AND ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVES
      • Actions taken to eliminate PFCs by two market leaders
    • RECYCLED MATERIALS
    • NATURAL MATERIALS
    • ORGANIC MATERIALS
    • COMPLIANCE WITH ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS
  • WATERPROOF BREATHABLE GARMENTS
    • MATERIALS USED IN THE MANUFACTURE OF WATERPROOF BREATHABLE GARMENTS
    • DESIGN FEATURES OF WATERPROOF BREATHABLE GARMENTS
    • AFTERCARE OF WATERPROOF BREATHABLE GARMENTS
  • APPLICATIONS OF WATERPROOF BREATHABLE FABRICS
    • Comfort
  • INNOVATIONS IN DURABLE WATER REPELLENT (DWR) FINISHES
    • BOLGER & O'HEARN: ALTOPEL F3 WATER REPELLENT AND OMNIBLOQ
    • EUROPLASMA: PLASMAGUARD S
    • EVOLVED BY NATURE: ACTIVATED SILK
    • GREEN THEME TECHNOLOGIES: EMPEL
    • HEIQ: HEIQ ECO DRY FW AND DWR FINISHES WHICH ARE RESISTANT TO DRY CLEANING
    • HUNTSMAN TEXTILE EFFECTS: PHOBOTEX RSY AND ZELAN R3
    • SCHOELLER TEXTIL: 3XDRY BIO AND ECOREPEL BIO
  • INNOVATIONS IN WATERPROOF BREATHABLE MEMBRANES AND FABRICS
    • BENQ MATERIALS: XPORE
      • Xpore Extreme laminates
      • Xpore Xtra laminates
    • DIMPORA: DIMPORA MEMBRANE
    • DIRECTA PLUS: G+ (GRAPHENE PLUS) MEMBRANES
    • FAR EASTERN NEW CENTURY (FENC): FENC TOPGREEN MEMBRANE
    • SINGTEX: STORMFLEECE FABRIC AND AIRMEM MEMBRANE
    • THE NORTH FACE: FUTURELIGHT
    • VAUDE: CEPLEX GREEN MEMBRANE
    • VENTILE: VENTILE ECO 400 RCO
    • W L GORE & ASSOCIATES (GORE): NEW GORE-TEX PRO FABRICS
  • OUTLOOK

Download our eBook: How to Succeed Using Market Research

Learn how to effectively navigate the market research process to help guide your organization on the journey to success.

Download eBook