Lycra is a brand name for elastane, which is a highly elastic synthetic fabric. Despite having different names, Lycra, spandex, and elastane are all the same material, and these fabrics can stretch to 5-8 times their usual size.
This fabric was originally developed by the DuPont Corporation in the 1950s, but it would not exist if polyurethane had not been invented by IG Farben in the 1930s in Germany. Polyurethane now represents the base material for a number of different plastics, and the same basic chemical synthesis methods are used to make Lycra that are used to make other polyurethane-based plastics.
Originally developed as a replacement for rubber, Spandex is remarkable for its ability to stretch many times its original length, and then snap back to its starting size with no loss to its spring. It is strong, but not as strong as natural latex, and can be mixed with any natural or man-made fibers.
A touch of Spandex adds comfort and freedom of movement, improving the fit, shape retention and wrinkle resistance of the apparel, but it doesn't have the longest life span.
As little as 2% Spandex is enough to improve a woven fabric's movement, drape, and shape. Whatever the blend, fabrics enhanced with Lycra keep the look and feel of the majority fibre. Lycra swim clothes feel great in the water.
Fabric brand name: Lycra
Fabric also known as: Spandex, elastane
Fabric composition: Polyether-polyurea copolymer
Fabric breathabilityn: High breathability
Moisture-wicking abilities: High
Heat retention abilities: Low
Stretchability (give): Extraordinarily high
Prone to pilling/bubbling: High Recommended washing temperatures: Warm or cold
Commonly used in: Swimwear, socks, bike shorts, yoga pants, hiking apparel