Materials, Technology and Innovation at the Service of Sport

RadiciGroup and the Italian Alpine Rescue Corps join the Politecnico di Milano in a quest for new solutions for high-performance technical apparel

From inserts made of special phase change materials that harden on impact to protect the body, to a jacket incorporating active visibility systems and simplified communication devices: the technical apparel world is continuously evolving and becoming increasingly more demanding.

For this reason, RadiciGroup, a manufacturer of synthetic fibres and plastics widely used in the sportswear industry, collaborated with the scientific-technological university Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI) on a Sportswear Design workshop for the students enrolled in the Design for the Fashion System Master’s programme.

About 50 students from different countries attended the training course, which ran from September to December 2017. The workshop’s objective was for the students to develop and design sportswear apparel featuring innovative shapes, materials and styles.

In order to stay close to reality and challenge the students with a complex task, the Alpine Rescue Corps of Lombardy, Italy, was called on to participate. The students listened to the needs and requirements of the rescuers in emergencies and created a number of garment collections specifically for those activities, including, in particular, a high visibility jacket.

“As a producer of raw materials for use in the sportswear sector, among others” said Marco De Silvestri, marketing director of the RadiciGroup Comfort Fibres Business Area, “it is of the greatest importance to us that young designers know, already in the design phase, the specific performance characteristics afforded by the different materials. Polyamides and polyesters, two of the types of fibres most widely used for sportswear, are highly versatile and allow for combining various performance characteristics in a single product, optimizing its use for the needs of a specific case.”

RadiciGroup, with its vertically integrated production (from chemicals to polymers and textile yarn), has the know-how and capability to adapt the formulation of its textile polymers to the rapidly changing trends and needs of the highly competitive textiles market, which is always trying to set the bar higher to achieve new goals. All of this, plus sustainability: the Group has embraced the ecodesign and circular economy concepts and has accordingly developed and delivered products keeping in mind their second life.

RadiciGroup as a whole has taken on the challenge to engineer textile products so as to be suitable for mechanical recovery and transformed into secondary raw material for technical and industrial applications by the plastics industry.

“Through our teamwork with RadiciGroup and the Alpine Rescue Corps of Lombardy,” noted Maurizia Botti, coordinator and instructor of the Sportswear Design Workshop, “our students had the opportunity to transfer the technological knowledge they acquired during the first part of the course to a specific real-life case, where comfort, performance and innovation had to be combined in one garment. I am particularly satisfied with this project, which provided the academic world with the opportunity to interact with a major producer of materials for the sportswear sector on a project involving the study of technical apparel to be used by the Italian Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps (CNSAS)”.

The students were divided into 7 work groups, each of which created its own brand name, mission and values. Then, on the basis of the needs of the Alpine rescuers in emergency situations and the performance characteristics of the various materials, each student team prepared a real collection: besides the high visibility jacket, they studied the first, second and third clothing layers and accessories (gloves and helmet).

“I was surprised by the students’ ability to put into practice the theory they had learned during the first part of the workshop in such a short time,” said Francesco Valgoi, instructor of the National School for Rescue Technicians (SNATE – ScuolaNazionale Tecnici) of CNSAS and Alpine Guide. “They succeeded in matching the needs of us rescuers with the available innovative materials, technologies and almost futuristic solutions. I can say that the Italian Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps now has a number of excellent ideas to build upon.”

From sportswear to athleisure. In the second part of the workshop, the students, under the guidance of Professor Gianfranco Azzini, took up the challenge of creating an urban collection, which, starting from typical Italian tailoring, evolved towards deconstructed tailoring and technological fabrics to create more contemporary streetwear. RadiciGroup synthetic fibres, either by themselves or in combination with natural fibres, turned out to be the right choice for this kind of application, in that they ensure comfort, better wearability and versatility of final garments.

For more details on the project developed together with POLIMI and CNSAS and to learn about other RadiciGroup sports-related initiatives, please read the latest issue of the corporate magazine VOICES available at this website link: for-sportswear-40372