- This category of clothing is designed specifically for activities that relate to performance and extreme sports such as skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, hiking, and fishing. Perhaps the first example of a performance garment was the creation of protective armor dating back to the Greco-Roman period. The present equivalent is the spacesuit developed in the late 1950s, with its collective layers of materials which can withstand life-threatening temperatures ranging from -250° F to 250° F. Textile technology, at the advent of the Space Age, has been the inspiration for the $3 billion performance-apparel industry that we know today. The National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) was formed in 1958, the same year the United States passed the Space Age Act of 1958. This Act required NASA to make inventions and discoveries available to private industry. This legislation led to more than 700 laboratories being placed under the umbrella of the National Technology Transfer Center and resulted in numerous collective collaborations, an increase in competition, and the development of new technologies that, in turn, affected the sporting goods industries as well as the performance-apparel industry. NASA's spacesuit technology inspired performance textiles such as Teflon (1938), Kevlar (1971), Nomex, and Gore-Tex (1976). Another spinoff of spacesuit technology was UV-blocking (protective coatings against the sun's harmful rays) and cooling vests (which cooled the body when it could not do it fast enough itself, such as with burn victims). By the 1970s, leisure-time sports such as skiing, hiking, camping, and mountain climbing were becoming increasingly popular. Companies such as The North Face, Patagonia, and Marmot are at the cutting edge of emerging technologies and not only design comfortable and functional performance clothing, but also are instrumental in creating and pioneering textile innovations.
Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. Francesca Sterlacci and Joanne Arbuckle.
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