Quick: Name an item in your closet that keeps you cool when you warm up, adds warmth when you're getting chilly and impresses everyone back at the ski lodge with enviable patterns and designs.
Chances are, you don't have one — yet.
Enter Athleta's Remarkawool: a fabric innovation that serves as the backbone of a collection of pieces to complete your Holiday looks. The elegantly collared base layer pictured throughout — it's a top to wear under your winter workout clothes — is a key piece of the collection, fashionable enough to stand on its own.
Remarkawool is a blend of two performance fabrics: Merino wool and polyester — one natural and one synthetic. While its soft, supple hand feel is sure to satisfy the most tactile shoppers, Remarkawool clothing stands apart. While there are plenty of wool/polyester base layers in the market, the Athleta spin — combining high-performing fabrics with top-notch design and construction to make superior clothing — elevates them beyond activewear.
For example, think about the thumb holes on your go-to exercise hoodie. When your thumbs aren't in them, there are holes in your sleeves. The Remarkawool base layer, though, wouldn't leave you hanging with unused and unflattering holes in your garment. When unused, the thumb openings fold neatly into the Remarkawool design.
The lesson? As Athleta's Sr. Manager of Innovation and Product Information Tracy Byrnes says, product challenges can be solved through design and construction — a different type of innovation — not just through innovative fabrics.
“She can wear it as a base layer, she can look fabulous apres-ski, she can wear this in the city out on the town; she can wear this every day," Tracy said. "It's not just sports-specific. We gave her more versatility in where she can wear it, and we gave her a more fashionable look."
That unexpected piece of the puzzle that enhances a customer's experience with a garment also forges a stronger connection with that customer. It's understanding not only her sport, but her lifestyle, Tracy said.
Make no mistake, fabric technology — namely, its warming/cooling qualities — has a heavy hand in elevating these clothes. When you heat up, the fabrics help cool you down. And then when you start cooling down, those fabrics stop the cooling process. The result is a more balanced temperature throughout a day of activity, with fewer spikes.
Take the base layer as an example. Let's say it's worn during a day of skiing. Skiers know well that you're not active the whole time, and you're not sitting the whole time, either. You stand in line or sit in a chair lift, and your body temperature lowers. You ski, and your body temperature rises. This layer helps level those spikes that normally have you shedding layers almost as quickly as you put them back on.
As with all Athleta products, a lot of people, including Tracy, tested Remarkawool clothing before they were ready for prime time. Tracy's test was a formidable one for any performance product.
It was a freezing winter morning. Tracy never wears long sleeves in the gym, but she did that day in the spirit of the field test. She ran in the base layer on a treadmill, quickly left the gym without showering, attended a yoga class, and then went out to breakfast.
Two workouts, one breakfast, and a few indoor-outdoor transitions later, she noticed...well, that she didn't notice. And, to the casual observer, she didn't even look like she was in workout wear.
"I couldn't believe that I wasn't freezing in between," Tracy said. "I couldn't believe that I didn't see that spike. It was hard to describe; it's not that you notice something — you notice that you didn't notice. It's not having those uncomfortable moments."