Goodbye Hot, Sweaty Denim: Now It Can Actually Make You Cooler

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By Apurba Banerjee, Ph.D., Chief Scientist at brrr°

Denim hasn’t changed much since Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis received a patent for their riveted blue jeans in 1873, and consumers have the same complaints today that they had almost a century and a half ago: the tightly packed yarns in denim trap heat, making the wearer hot and sweaty.

That effect is compounded when the garment is snug, as anyone who owns a pair of skinny jeans can attest.

It’s time for denim to get an upgrade.

brrr° developed patented methods for integrating natural cooling minerals into a nylon and polyester sheath core that is surrounded by a layer of naturally-derived regenerated cellulosic fibers (such as Tencel®, Modal and Viscose Rayon) that feels like cotton and provides active wicking and rapid drying. At the center, spandex provides stretch and comfort.

Thanks to the embedded patented blend of cooling minerals, this new denim creates an authentic and noticeable endothermic reaction that instantly and continuously draws heat and moisture away from the skin. And since the technology is an integral part of the polymer matrix, it won’t fade or wash out over time.

The results from independent lab tests are clear: brrr° denim feels 38% cooler to the touch1 than comparable traditional denim, it dries up to 47% faster2 and wicks 2.5 times better.3

We’ve learned that denim has some inherent properties that must be taken into account to achieve the maximum cooling effect. You must use a finer and flatter yarn with an optimized greige density to increase surface area contact with the skin. You must create the right size channels to maximize moisture removal. And mercerizing the yarn to make it even smoother helps enhance cooling effect.

There are also some things you shouldn’t do with cooling denim. Certain treatments such as hydrophobic silicone softeners can inhibit the wicking capabilities of denim, and packing the warp too tightly creates a barrier effect that diminishes the cooling.

It’s crucial to have scientists with intimate knowledge of polymers, chemistry, coloring and manufacturing involved in the process to help buyers determine the ideal way to develop yarn and produce garments so the cooling effect of denim is optimized and noticeable.

The cooling, wicking and drying properties of brrr° denim are a far cry from the original rugged riveted denim work pants Strauss and Davis patented in the 1800s.

If they were alive today, we think they would find it pretty cool.

About the author: Apurba Banerjee, PhD, is the Chief Scientist at Atlanta-based brrr°, which develops cooling textile technologies and licenses them to retailers and manufacturers. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in polymer, fiber and textile sciences from the University of Georgia, and she holds a Bachelor of Technology in textile and fiber processing from the Institute of Chemical Technology (formerly known as UDCT). She has been a member of AATCC since 2012, she serves as Vice Chair of the C3 Technical Committee on Research, Chair of the Yarn and Other Substrate Committee, and she received the AATCC Future Leaders Award in 2019.

Footnotes:

  1. FTTS-FA-019 Qmax cool feeling test performed by a third-party testing lab on May 15, 2018.
  2. AATCC 197 wicking test performed by a third-party testing lab on May 15, 2018.
  3. AATCC 201 heated plate method dry time test performed by a third-party testing lab on May 15, 2018.