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Neoprene, Gore-Tex, And Why Smart Fabrics Look Good On An Edgier, Wiser You

Polyurethane and rubberized cotton can be as good-looking as they are practical
by Dyan Sheryl Carolino | Dec 27, 2016
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You spot it immediately—the button-down in your color and size, and at a price that won’t leave a hole in your wallet. A quick dash into the fitting room and you decide it’s just perfect.

But did you check the fabric?

We’re all tempted to simply buy clothing based on style and color, but a closer look into the material can actually make your wardrobe way more stylish and comfortable.

Before, the silhouette of oversized shirts and the cut of trousers are enough, but now it’s a whole new different ballgame. Performance fabrics, which can be as good-looking as they are practical, are on the rise.

So step up your game by knowing all about these emerging textiles, and try to incorporate them into your wardrobe.


Look for this material when shopping for sweatshirts and swim clothes.

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If you’d ask people a few years ago whether they'd wear a piece of clothing in the streets made from a surfer’s suit, they’d probably say no. But it's a different story today as menswear designers inventively use neoprene on runways and look books—and it’s certainly no fish out of water in stylish men’s wardrobes.

So what is neoprene? Also known by its non-technical name of “that squishy scuba material”, neoprene is a durable but soft synthetic sponge rubber that’s water-resistant. It sheds water like a duck, and is prized for its flexibility and ability to keep shape in hot and cold weather. It’s also perfect for rainy or colder months (trip to Baguio!) as it keeps you insulated.

Because it holds its shape well and is anti-wrinkle, you may ditch the iron. As an added bonus, neoprene can also slim you down.

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Look for this material when shopping for work clothes.

Men these days live the “full-contact life”—where they get up at six in the morning, work out, go to work, attend meetings, step outside for lunch, and go to an event after work. The traditional cashmere in men’s cardigans, sweatshirts, and blazers don’t always fit into that type of lifestyle as well as we would like, unfortunately.

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Enter technical cashmere. Flat-seamed, stretched, and moves as you move, technical cashmere is for men with no time to detour via the dry cleaner. It’s machine washable, and can be tumbled dry without piling or ruining the fabric. It’s going to hold its shape and not shrink in the washing machine.

So what’s technical cashmere? For starters, it’s not cashmere. Not technically. It’s a blend of 81 percent viscose, 10 percent elastane, and just 9 percent cashmere.



Look for this material when look for all-weather jackets and clothes for traveling.  It can resist rain, wind, and expel sweat (take that temperamental Philippine weather).

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Used in a variety of outdoor and high-performance clothing such as hiking boots and parkas, GORE-TEX is a breathable, water- and wind-proof textile that’s microporous. It’s like neoprene, but much thinner, and unlike ordinary synthetic tiles like nylon, GORE-TEX is known to stop moisture from getting in but lets perspiration out. It’s also known for its exceptional strength, abrasion resistance, and toughness.

The science behind it is pretty cool. GORE-TEXT has pores smaller than a drop of water, but larger than the molecules of water when in vapor phase. That’s why it’s impermeable to liquid water, but the moisture you produce (sweat) passes through,

The downside with clothes made from GORE-TEX is that they can be quite expensive—but if you’re a regular traveler or a weekend warrior, it’s probably worth the investment.


Look for this material when shopping for trainers or gym shoes.

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There’s a rise in athleisure and a greater demand for functional pieces, which paved way for the popularity of polyurethane in men’s fashion.

It is a flexible material often used as an alternative for cotton or rubber—even metal or wood. It can be hard like fiberglass, bouncy like rubber, and squishy like upholstery foam. First developed in Germany, the pliable material is found on sneaker soles, thanks to its nearly perfect list of properties. It’s also light, water- and scratch-proof, which means it’s perfect for gym shoes.

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Although best for sports shoes, polyurethane is also extensively used for business and fashion shoe soles.

Because polyurethane looks like leather, you can find clothes made of this material as well. Unlike leather, it’s lighter, can be dry-cleaned, and a formidable water-proof alternative to real leather.


Look for this material when shopping for a raincoat or bag.

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Rubber and cotton may not seem like they’d make a harmonious couple—the combination sounds like a sticky, hairy mess. But rubberized cotton, which has a layer of cotton and a layer of rubber coating on the inside, actually looks good and is damn hard to beat for rain protection. The brainchild of Charles Mackintosh (yes, the father of Mac), this fabric was initially used for raincoats, but now it can be seen in bags and “leather” jackets.

Most garments made of rubberized cotton are completely handmade, with the seams glued by hand rather than sewn for a completely watertight seal. Rubberized cotton raincoats also have a shorter, sleeker cut. 

Ready to make your life and your wardrobe more efficient? Then don’t just look for clothes that are simply stylish, body-flattering, and cheap. Take a look at the fabric—and choose one that will evolve with your lifestyle.

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