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Interview: Jeff Thrasher of Lululemon

The men's sportswear designer on the importance of sweating the details

by Yale Breslin in Design on 30 July 2013

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Jeff Thrasher is the lead men's designer at Lululemon. In his role, he's first and foremost responsible for creating the future product line and aesthetic of the brand's men's range, but on a detailed scale, he's at the helm of design functionality and new technological innovation. We spoke to Thrasher about two new product initiations: Metal Vent Tech top and the Surge Short III and what makes this combination an ideal outfit for high-intensity workouts.

The Metal Vent Tech tops encompass something called "anti-stink technology." Can you tell me a little bit more about this?

Our Metal Vent Tech tops won't stink. It's true. What makes your sweat stink is the bacteria in it. One of the major things we wanted to solve for athletes was clothing that smelled even after washing, which is why we developed our Silverescent fabrics. We make our Metal Vent Tech tops with our Seamless Silverescent fabric, which has X-Static yarns knit right in. These yarns have silver permanently bonded to them. Silver inhibits the growth of odor—which causes bacteria—so your top won't retain that stink. All of this means you can make multiple trips to the gym between washes. And, we've also designed it into your busy life; so you can workout in the morning then head right to the office without having to worry about your wet gym clothes smelling up your bag.

What different testing methods did you explore before perfecting this technology?

This is a bit of a tough one—we'd rather not give away any secrets. But we can share about another feature called Seamless Construction. The garment is knitted on a tubular drum eliminating the need for side seams. Fewer seams mean fewer chafe points. In this case, less is truly more. This knitting process also allows us to engineer mesh panels in high sweat areas to increase breathability without the bulk of cut and sew.

There's also something called "mesh venting." What exactly is that?

Mesh venting is there to help provide airflow in the areas where you sweat the most. It’s quite literally that simple. We intentionally place it in hot zones and created a design that provides maximum coolness where you need it the most. Since Metal Vent Techs are made with our Seamless Silverescent, it's made by adjusting how we knit yarns in those hot zones. 

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The Surge Short III are lightweight, breathable, lined shorts and were constructed with four-way stretch Recycled Polyester Swift. What are the benefits?

Our Surge Short III’s are perfect for runs and also for the gym because they're made with our super lightweight, moisture wicking fabric called Recycled Polyester Swift. It's awesome because it's so light, but also because it stretches in four ways, which means you get a great range of motion and are less restricted. We build this into the garment in the ideating and sketch process—and it starts with the fabric. It's through unconventional pattern-making and seam placement that allows for maximum mobility of the garment. After the design process, we wear test the style in all the elements we see our guest using this short—from run, to gym to cross training to yoga.

You mentioned "moisture wicking." Can you tell me a little bit more about this?

Having a drenched and sweaty shirt sticking to you isn't exactly the most comfortable feeling. So we've developed moisture wicking fabrics that are designed to pull sweat away from the body and to the surface of the garment, so you'll be cooler and more comfortable while working out.

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Reflective detailing is also key. Why was this something that was important in the design process?

We want to help keep you safe, especially in the dark. We know in the warmer months you run early in the morning and later in the evening to beat the heat. Placing reflective details intentionally in the design makes it super simple to go out for a run in as little as possible, while remaining visible. Reflectivity was built into the design and not as an afterthought. We truly celebrate function-driven design and know that runners need that extra visibility in low-light situations. We are thinking about 360-degree reflectivity—so you will find the reflective part on the runner’s back left hem, for full coverage.

Both the Metal Vent Tech top and the Surge Short III are available from Lululemon starting at $64.

Images courtesy of Lululemon

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