Elastane Fibre And It’s Applications

What stretches up to over 500 percent its size and still manages to retain its shape on recovery?

Three guesses…



Elastane fibre

Spandex fibre

Oh! That’s another thing you probably didn’t know. Elastane, elastane fibre and Spandex fibre are used interchangeably across the globe. Spandex, however, is used more commonly than the rest, more so in the United States of America, so it was natural for the term catch on to the rest of the world.


Remember Spanx, a stretchy multi-apparel line introduced as slimming wear to the market? It capitalised the most on elastane and its stretch capabilities. They took elastane wrapped with hard yarn (this blend is also known as covered spandex yarn) and created a line of clothing that would not only make you look slimmer but also improve posture. The confidence Spanx gave to overweight women is exemplary.

So how did Elastane Fibre come into existence. This is a fascinating story in its own. During the World War II, when rubber was used in the equipment used in the war, scientists were burning the midnight oil trying to come up for an alternative for this expensive and unstable natural element. That is how elastane was invented. Elastane wouldn’t react to extreme temperatures and chemicals, and displayed phenomenal stretch and recover properties. It was also extremely cheap to manufacture.

Soon after, elastane was being used in the manufacture of garments. Spandex clothing came to be a rage among Rock artists and enthusiasts– it was shiny, tight and iconic. It was a fashion staple from the 70’s through the 80’s.

Today elastane is used in the creation of fashion and function wear. Intimate wear, active wear, fashion wear, hosiery… you name the category and you’ll find a little bit of spandex, or maybe lots, everywhere!


What You Didn’t Know About Elastane

Did you know that even though the mention of the use of elastane fibre dates back to prehistoric times as early as 5000BC in present day Africa, Peru, Ireland and New Jersey, the magic fibre was actually developed and commercially produced in the 1950’s.649-axparis-ax-paris-ripple-shoulder-pad-bodycon-dress-for-women-1

In the middle of World War II, chemists decided to create a cheaper alternative to rubber that was being used in building equipment. Since it was used intensively, the price of rubber constantly surged. On top of that, rubber is a natural fibre that would disintegrate easily in the presence of excessive heat, moisture and oily conditions. So, polymer chemist, Farbenfabriken Bayer, conducted research and experimentation to create a fibre like rubber that was cheaper, stronger and easy to synthesise. That is how the elastane fibre first came into being.

Post war, fabric made out of pure elastane came as a boon to sports persons and those involved in jobs that demanded moving around by allowing freedom of movement but the magical fabric didn’t allow sweat to evaporate, making it itchy and rather suffocating. In order to make it breathable and versatile, specialists started blending Elastane Fibre with other natural and synthetic fibres to change its consistency to suit the environment for its intended use. This led to the creation of various types of elastane blends like ponte and hosiery.

Today elastane is mass produced across the world and used in a wide variety of garments and accessories. From swimming trunks to hair bands to the upper of your shoes, elastane is an integral part of all anything wearable that surrounds you.