Good garments look well-made and are usually of high quality. For a fabric to be considered top-quality, it needs to be durable and comfortable. The typical materials used in creating most apparel are polyester, nylon, wool, cotton, etc. However, despite the availability of different materials, sometimes, they don’t fit perfectly. Most people struggle with finding clothes that ideally fit their body size and shapes. That’s where spandex and Lycra come in. However, knowing how they differ can be difficult; that’s why this Spandex vs Lycra comparison is important.
Spandex and Lycra are elastic, ensuring that every apparel made from them is a perfect fit for the wearer irrespective of size and height. Since the advent of spandex and Lycra, they have revolutionized the apparel industry. They are popular in outdoor clothes, and many fashion companies are switching to this material. Spandex and Lycra offer you elasticity, comfort, and durability. However, if you’re looking for crucial information about the two fabrics, the internet can be confusing. This article provides insight into the differences and similarities of both fabrics. So without further ado, let’s get into it.
Spandex vs Lycra – How Spandex Differs From Lycra
The difference between spandex and lycra has been up for debate for many years. They both come from the elastane fabric. However, their names differ, and so does the brand that creates them. In the United States, Elastane is also known as Spandex. A company often produces fabric and personalizes the name to make it stand out from other similar products. Therefore, the main difference between spandex and lycra is the name. Elastane has many commercial names like spandex, lycra, elaspan, etc.
Lycra is the patented name for Spandex by an American corporation involved in biotechnology. This company started out producing pharmaceuticals and chemicals. They also produced different petroleum-based fuels and synthetic fiber. The company markets lycra so that people now use it interchangeably with spandex.
A notable difference in this spandex vs lycra comparison is that while all lycra is spandex, not all spandex is lycra. Spandex is a common name for elastane fabrics. However, lycra is a name specific to Dupont. This is a significant difference between both fabrics within the depth of similarities these materials share.
Spandex vs Lycra – The Similarities
Spandex and Lycra refer to any material that features lots of elasticity and durability. They come from the same material, which Dupont also invented. Elastane existed as a substitute for rubber when Dupont discovered you could spin rubber into fine threads that are stretchable. Although spandex and lycra sound like brand names, spandex simply means ‘expands,’ while Lycra is a branded name. The fabric properties are quite similar. Most times, they’re made from a cotton blend. However, spandex and lycra have remained top inventions in the fitness industry throughout the years. It is a part of most athletic wear because of its extreme elasticity and durability.
Some major lycra products you can find are the Sports Lycra wear, 4-Way Lycra Trousers, Lycra Lower Wears, and more. Sports Lycra is quite popular because they offer many items for fitness enthusiasts like leggings, shorts, bras, t-shirts, and many more. Due to their strength and elasticity, they’re great for workout clothes. When you blend lycra and spandex into any fabric, it automatically gives the fabric six times its stretchability. Lycra and spandex are also popular in the creation of men’s apparel. They’re great for manufacturing durable, comfortable, and affordable everyday wear. In addition, most bathing suits and wetsuits contain spandex and elastane because they also offer waterproof features. Overall, spandex and lycra are types of elastane and are highly sought-after in the fashion industry.
Why Are Lycra and Spandex Blended in Fabrics
Blending spandex and lycra into another fabric makes it possible to create fitting clothes with these fabrics. That’s why the production of spandex and lycra was able to reshape the fashion industry. Most people would argue that yoga pants and other items in the athleisure category wouldn’t exist without these two fabrics in the spandex vs elastane comparison. Without spandex, bicycle shorts and sports bras won’t offer wearers the same level of support. Spandex also changed the underwear category as it ensured a more comfortable fit.
There are several other form-fitting wears like swimsuits and leotards that utilize lycra. Stretch denim wouldn’t exist today without the invention of lycra. It exists because a London fashion designer reimagined the world of jeans and added 1-3% of lycra in the blend. Even with such a small amount, it helps your denim hug your curves perfectly. Most times, manufacturers make it clear in the labels that the jeans contain lycra or spandex.
Spandex vs Lycra – Popular Uses
80% of all retail clothing contains some percentage of spandex or lycra. However, in this section of the spandex vs lycra comparison, we’ll be narrowing it down to the commonest use of these fabrics. Below are the types of clothing where manufacturers use lycra or spandex to offer you a nice elastic stretch.
Leggings are skin-tight soft pants that hug your legs and don’t cover your feet. Most people wear leggings on their own. However, some styles are quite transparent, making them more suited to wearing with a short skirt, long shirt, or tunic. Most people tend to confuse a legging with yoga pants. However, yoga pants flare out at the ankle even though they offer a tight fit on the hip. All leggings contain a blend of lycra or spandex to make them form-fitting and stretchy.
Another type of clothing that utilizes spandex or lycra is tights. They look similar to leggings but usually feature a sheer fabric. Most times, you need to pair a pair of tights with a long sweater, skirt, or tight. For years, people wore silk stockings and held them up with garters. With the invention of lycra and spandex, there was no need for scrunch stockings or annoying garters. Several opaque tights with spandex ensure the fabric stays tight against your leg.
Another type of clothing that features a blend of lycra is stretch denim. One thing we can all agree on is that stretch denim makes anyone’s legs look good. It is quite different from traditional denim as it is quite thinner while offering users a softer texture. Stretch denim usually hugs the line of the wearer’s legs and helps to set off your curves in a good way. There is stretch denim in different styles. You can find them in boot cuts, slim fit, and more. You can also pair them with different outfits. Stretch denim go well with t-shirt, silky blouses, and many more. The different stretch denim also comes with varying amounts of stretchiness. The product label should also inform you about the percentage of lycra or spandex in the fabric.
Swimwear is another type of clothing that we cannot ignore in this spandex vs lycra comparison. If you like bikinis and wetsuits, you should know that they contain an amount of spandex or elastane to ensure everything stays in place. Polyester and nylon’s production changed the modern swimwear industry. Before its development, wool was the only fabric used in creating swimwear because of its water resistance. Therefore, people used to go to the beach clothed in wool completely.
However, you can find nylon or polyester swimwear today with some amount of lycra and spandex. This is because these two stretchy materials are form-fitting and water-resistant. Therefore, it will keep you looking good while also keeping you cool. There are different types of swimsuits available; it depends on your preference.
Spandex and lycra also changed the underwear industry. Today, you can buy 100% spandex underwear or a blend that offers you just enough elasticity to ensure a comfortable fit. One thing’s for sure; all modern underwear contains some amount of lycra or spandex. It is present in the stretchy waistband if you can’t find it in other underwear parts. More than other types of clothing, Lycra and spandex transformed the underwear industry significantly. Instead of baggy options, you can now find dozens of styles available in panties and boxers.
You can enjoy a snug fit with your socks due to lycra and spandex. Most socks feature a blend of lycra and cotton or spandex and polyester. This ensures light, breathable and stretchy socks at all times. Note that there are varying types of socks available for different activities. For example, you can get thin socks for your ballet flats or thick hiking socks when heading outdoors—the different types of socks depend on the material used in creating them. Hiking socks usually feature wool or acrylic blended with lycra.
On the other hand, nylon or cotton blended with spandex is ideal for dress socks. The amount of stretch is depended on the fabric used in the blend. Therefore, spandex and lycra offer high levels of elasticity on their own. However, the fabric used in the blend can significantly affect the stretchiness of the product.
How to Care for Spandex and Lycra Apparels
Most stretch wears containing spandex and lycra can go into the washer. However, if you’re looking to achieve the best results, it’s best to turn the apparel inside out. You can also place them inside a mesh laundry bag to ensure there are no snagging threads when washing. You should use cool water and a gentle wash cycle to get the best results from your spandex and lycra clothing. This will preserve its stretchiness and ensure its durability. In addition, there are some variations of these fabrics that require special detergent. You can often get this information from the cloth’s label before washing.
Just like other stretch items, heat can significantly break down the elasticity of your spandex and lycra material. Therefore, you should place apparel containing lycra or spandex in the dryer. The best option to ensure excellent results is air-drying.
Spandex and lycra describe the same material. Their base material is polyurethane, and it offers impressive elasticity. It’s hard to miss, with 80% of the fashion world blending spandex and lycra with different non-stretchy fabrics. These fabrics help to create comfortable, durable, and form-fitting apparel. Each fabric has its pros and cons, but its main benefit is its stretchiness and water-resistant feature. It’s clear that they refer to the same fabric, but while lycra is a brand name, spandex is a generic name for all elastane.