All About Activewear: From Sublimation Paper to Sustainable Fabrics

In activewear, everything is meticulously designed to combine comfort, style, durability, and sustainability. In this article, we explain why sublimation paper and eco-friendly fabrics are not a fleeting trend in the process, but rather two determining elements in creating these garments.

Whether in a gym session, a demanding field workout, or a relaxing end-of-day walk, the right clothing makes all the difference. However, if in the past only the so-called "sporty style" was used, nowadays people seek comfortable, appealing, durable, and ecological clothing pieces.
These requirements tip the scales when choosing, and each model results from a process with various phases and materials. Today we highlight sublimation paper and sustainable fabrics, two fundamental elements that give a unique identity to clothing, adapting them to different sports practices and athletes' tastes.
1. Sublimate Quality
1.1. The Method

Sublimation printing is one of the types of digital textile printing used to customize fabrics. It differs from direct printing because images and designs are initially printed with sublimation inks on sublimation paper, also known as transfer paper, and then transferred from this paper to the fabric through heat and pressure.

In this method, the inks become gaseous when heated, penetrate the paper fibers, and return to a solid state when cooled. The paper with visual motifs and the fabric are then placed in a heat press, and the ink is transferred from the first to the second.

1.2. The Advantages

Sublimation is a very versatile technique that, when done with the right equipment and materials, provides unparalleled color intensity and vivacity, high sharpness of images and designs, and greater durability of prints.

At the fabric level, it proves ideal for synthetic/polyester-based fabrics, allowing the creation of pieces with lower costs, various textures and shines, and resistance to heat and abrasion.

1.3. The Right Paper: decal® Winner

In sublimation printing, we can have the best printer, the best inks, and the best fabrics, but the quality of the work is seriously compromised if the sublimation paper does not guarantee the best transfer of visual motifs.

The results of a poor choice of paper are colors different from the original, imprecise lines, stains, ink inconsistencies on the surface, and premature wear of the prints. To avoid all this, decal® launched the Winner sublimation paper with a coating specially formulated to control the amount of ink that is absorbed and retained on the paper surface.

The transfer to the fabric is facilitated and smoothed by the release of ink in the right amount, achieving the desired colors and saturation. Ink consumption is also significantly reduced, lowering printing costs and the ecological footprint. Besides all this, this sublimation paper does not warp during printing, and drying is quick.

Learn more about this decal® novelty here.



2. Weave Sustainability
2.1. Technical Fabrics

Functionality is fundamental in activewear sportswear, and textile materials must meet the main needs of users. The most common choice is technical fabrics such as polyester, Lycra, and nylon because they are lightweight, breathable, and dry quickly.

Polyester stands out among them and is widely used due to its high capacity to absorb moisture, regulate body temperature, and allow unrestricted movements.

2.2. Ecology Point to Point

Activewear is no longer solely associated with a healthy lifestyle with good sports practices and has taken an active role in affirming good environmental practices. Ecology has joined the demands of those who wear these garments, and everything is evaluated, such as raw materials and cultivation and production processes.

Sustainable fabrics gain more and more followers and range from organic cotton to recycled cotton or polyester fibers, through hemp, bamboo, and recycled PET bottles. Pineapple fiber fabrics (Piñatex), mushroom (MycoTEX), and wood pulp from reforestation trees (Tencel / Lyocell) are also a reality.

In cultivation processes, those involving fewer chemicals, such as pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, are sought. Regarding production, the most suitable is the one that consumes less water and energy and minimizes the consumption of natural resources, pollution, and waste.

2.3. The Right Fabrics: greentex

In the world of sustainable fabrics, recycled fabrics contribute doubly to reducing the carbon footprint of the textile industry. On the one hand, they reduce the need for virgin raw material and, on the other, give new utilities to waste.

In activewear sportswear, it is possible to combine environmental benefits with the benefits of polyester and achieve garments that are friendly to the environment and users. This is what greentex, a partner of decal®, did with its sustainable textiles that combine ecology, design, soft touch, and comfort.

The fabrics are created from recycled polyester, generating zero water waste and respecting the commitment of the European Green Pact so that all fabrics are recycled or recyclable by 2030.

Learn more about this partnership here.

3. decal® Winner and greentex: Activewear Fashion That's Here to Stay

The particularities of activewear sportswear distance it from conventional fashion. It is not enough to "look good" or "be cute". It should make garments the best ally of athletes (professional and amateur), and if we also add sustainability and aesthetics to it, it's perfect.

All of this is achieved when decal Winner® sublimation paper is used in sublimation printing that gives vibrant colors to greentex's sustainable fabrics. The results are immediate and lasting, making this combination a sports fashion that is not at all fleeting as it has proven that it is here to stay.

1. What is sublimation printing?
Sublimation printing is a process of transferring ink to fabrics or other substrates using heat. In this method, solid ink converts directly into gas without going through the liquid state, allowing the colors to be absorbed by the material in a durable and vibrant way. It is widely used in the production of sportswear due to its ability to create sharp and lasting prints.
2. What is the importance of hot pressure in sublimation printing?
Hot pressure plays a crucial role in dye sublimation, ensuring the adequate transfer of ink to the fabric. The ideal temperature and duration of hot pressure ensure that the ink fixation and color vividness are lasting, two essential factors for creating high-quality prints on sportswear.
3. Are there specific fabrics for this type of clothing?
Yes, the most commonly used materials are generally polyester, Lycra, nylon, and other synthetic fabrics. The choice of these materials is due to their properties of moisture absorption, elasticity, and resistance, which are important for the comfort and performance of athletes.
4. Are these clothing items durable and resistant?
Yes. The initial care should be taken in the design of sportswear through the best sublimation printing and the right sewing techniques. Users of the garments, on their part, should follow the manufacturer's instructions, which generally include washing in cold water, avoiding machine drying, and not using harsh chemical products.
5. What trends are currently marking activewear design?
Sportswear design is in a phase where ecology and personalization join the main choice criteria. One of the new trends is the incorporation of sustainable designs with high-performance recycled fabrics that maintain high comfort and functionality. Also highlighted are personalized prints that make the pieces unique for both high-competition athletes and amateur sportspeople.

All about activewear: from sublimation paper to seam finishes