Tasc Performance: Bamboo Activewear
As the nation continues to focus on making Americans healthier through exercise, the activewear market has continued to grow along with the times. Activewear is form fitting clothing that is meant to be tight to provide compression as well as avoid looseness that might affect your workout. Most active wear is made from polyester, or spandex. However, there’s a father and son team in New Orleans that is hoping that their unique take on activewear, will gain them a leg up in the exercise market. Todd and Al Andrews have set out to create a new breed of athletic wear. When brainstorming on what would be the best fabric to use in their new line of clothes. The standards are all there, lightweight, breathable, moisture wicking, sun protecting, and something chemical free. Polyester dominates the activewear market, and the Andrews were looking for an alternative. Polyester has potential to irritate skin and stink after a long workout.
Their work started in the 2000’s, but in 2009, they made a breakthrough in their research. Using a blend of fibers, including viscose from bamboo, they created a fabric that they believe is better than polyester.
“It’s very difficult to work with,” Todd Andrews said of the bamboo fiber. “But we knew that if we were able to turn it into a great fabric that could hold its shape, that could hold its color, that could perform, then we’d have something unique to take to the market.”
As of March 2017, Tasc Performance opened its first retail store at 3913 Magazine St. in New Orleans. Tasc is an acronym for the the first letters of the first names of the family members. The company currently employees only 24 employees, but they are hoping to expand and build their brand. In addition to the retail store, the clothing is sold online in about 700 outlets across the U.S. These include big box retailers as well as high end boutiques like Perlis Clothing. At Perlis, Tasc clothing is “right up there in my top five or six vendors,” said Robbie Fowlkes, the local retailer’s men’s sportswear buyer. “We do a big business with them at Christmas. It’s a great gift-giving idea. It’s moderately priced, certainly not as expensive as Lululemon or Under Armour.”
The bamboo material used in the clothing comes from Sichuan Province in China. The material is certified organic. Pith is stripped from the inside of a bamboo trunk before being mixed with caustic soda. The process extracts cellulose from the pulp, that solution is regenerated into viscose from bamboo. The company works with a family-owned factory in India. Bamboo fibers and organic cotton or merino wool fibers are spun into yarn. This is then made into a soft, durable fabric.
In Metairie, Iron Horse Clothier sells “a good bit of it,” said co-owner Tiffany Caldarera, who has stocked it since the store opened in late 2015. “It’s extremely comfortable, and the fact that it’s the bamboo cotton, it naturally has an SPF in it, with no chemicals,” she said. “It washes great, it dries great, and it’s adorable.”
The activewear industry accounted for nearly $44 billion in sales for the year of 2015. It’s a growing industry, and Tasc Performance hopes their unique take on fabric can help to give them a firm foothold.
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