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Choosing the Best Fabrics for the Workout Clothing

Mary Crowder

Posted on October 25 2017

I did a lot of research on different fabrics for our line of workout clothing.  Some of the fabrics chosen were just personal preference and some are simply a necessity for good workout clothing.     

Fabric weight is measured in gsm (grams per square meter).   The range is generally 180 gsm to 310 gsm.  I stay in the 200-280 gsm range.  Once you get above 300 the fabric seems stiff and heavy to me (depending on the combination of fabrics used).  That's fine for some activities, but I want the customer to be able to be comfortable in our clothing and wear them for a variety of workouts, or just for lounging.  

Many of our tops are 250 gsm and 73% polyester and 27% spandex.  This is a great combination of durability, softness, elasticity, and comfort.  Ours are also moisture wicking, breathable, dri fit and anti-bacterial.  This combination seems to be a customer favorite.  The ratio of polyester to spandex varies between brands.  This is the combination that I found to be the best.  I see a lot of 90% polyester and 10% spandex in the cheaper brands and have found that they don't hold up very well after a few washings and tend to lose their shape.




My personal preference is to have a little nylon added to the mix.  This seems to "hold you in" more (which is something I need) while still feeling soft and comfortable.  Some of our designs have to be sublimated (see the blog post regarding sublimation printing) and that can't be done on fabrics with nylon.  The black top below is 85% nylon 15% spandex and it's 200 gsm.  This combination is a lower gsm, but the nylon makes it feel just as heavy (actually slightly heavier feeling) than polyester & spandex alone.  We try to use this combination whenever a design can be screen printed.  The pants are 87% nylon and 13% spandex and are 280 gsm - I like pants to be a little heavier weight because they will naturally get more wear.  No one wants pants that are see-through, susceptible to holes or seams ripping.  These are also moisture wicking, breathable, dri fit and anti-bacterial.


You can do 100% polyester for workout clothing or a combination of cotton and polyester too.  Those tops are great for cardio activities (running, spinning, etc).  Since there's no spandex they won't hug your body, though, so if you're doing something like yoga you'll always be worried that your top won't stay put in an inversion pose. 

While I took great care in choosing proper fabrics for our designs, you do need to care for  athletic clothing properly to extend the life of the garment.  This is true for any brand.  Fabric softeners can break down the moisture wicking properties and bleach can be hard on the fabric.  Also wash in cold water and tumble dry low or hang dry.  Try not to wash the clothes with jeans or other garments with zippers or other hardware - they can snag the fabric.  With minimal care our clothes will hold up for many, many workouts!

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  • Mary: July 27, 2020

    Hi Jack – which ones in particular? We’re still looking for the perfect manufacturer (we were using inksewn USA and they went out of business). We now use a few print on demand services for the spandex leggings. Some of the original designs were designed here and then manufactured in China

  • Jack Taylor: July 27, 2020

    What manufacturer did you use for these garments?

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