At this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this month, The North Face unveiled a new innovative waterproof material – dubbed Futurelight – designed for use in outdoor apparel and equipment. It described this as a revolutionary fabric that is the most waterproof and breathable fabric ever created, while being also eco-friendly.
Contrary to other waterproof materials such as Gore-Tex – which do not let moisture out and can be uncomfortable when a work-out causes a sweat – the new fabric promises to eliminate all condensation. Futurelight will become available to consumers globally in TNF's product line for next autumn and will be featured across the brand's main performance collections.
Developed with nanospinning and sustainable processes, the new material can be used to make anything breathable, waterproof and comfortable, such as a waterproof T-shirt, sweater or even denim fabric, TNF said. However, it is for now only using it to make jackets, tents and gloves.
Nanospinning has allowed the brand's designers to add air permeability into the membrane of a fabric. It creates nano-level holes and thus a high level of porosity, which lets air move through the material while still maintaining total waterproofness.
Additionally, the company said this process gives designers the ability to adjust weight, stretch, breathability, durability, construction (knit or woven) and texture to match the activity and environment of athletes and consumers. Designers can customize the fabric for specific uses: for example, by increasing breathability in garments for aerobic pursuits or increasing protection from harsh, wet climates.
Another innovative aspect of Futurelight is the range of new eco-friendly practices used in fabric development. The brand has created three-layer garments with recycled fabrics and production methods that cut chemical consumption. They will be produced in a solar-powered factory.
At the CES in Las Vegas, The North Face partnered with Designworks, a design agency owned by the BMW group, to create physical and virtual reality experiences to demonstrate the fabric's technical capabilities. At the show, BMW showcased the new fabric by using it as an outer shell against extreme weather in a futuristic, lightweight, towable camper trailer, called Futurlight as well.
For the first time in 52 years, the CES had a dedicated Sports Zone. Among other innovations, it featured new ways in which fans can interact with sports events. According to the Sports Innovation Lab, three times more sports technology companies are exhibiting now than ten years ago.