What's the Difference

When first dreaming of the idea that has become alvöru, I only knew about the athletic high-performance fabrics that we commonly know as ‘wicking’. You know the brands I mean; they are now household names – Under Armor, Nike Dri-FIT, lululemon, COOLMAX, athleta, and many others.

But, really what IS the difference? I didn’t know about Phase Change Material (PCMs) until calling a mill that makes the wicking fabric that I’d originally planned to use for the initial line of alvöru clothing. While talking with the sales rep and explaining my plans, she mentioned their new technology – PCMs. My understanding of what fabrics can do changed at that moment! After receiving a sample and then doing additional research, I found the global leader in PCM – Outlast Technologies – based in Golden, CO, and knew these would be the fabrics used in alvöru clothing.

So, what’s the difference? 

Wicking fabrics are high-performance tech fabrics that draw moisture AWAY from the body. Think about a candle wick (where the ‘wicking’ process gets its name): a candle wick absorbs wax and draws it toward the flame. In the same way, moisture-wicking fabrics pull moisture away from the body and through the fabric to the surface furthest away from your skin, where it more easily evaporates. Wicking fabrics are made of high-tech polyester, which, unlike cotton, absorbs very little water.

PCM is a technology originally developed for NASA to keep astronauts comfortable and cool. Phase change materials absorb, store and release heat for optimal thermal comfort. The best example is water and ice: when ice is added to a drink, it changes from solid to liquid as it absorbs heat and cools the drink. In clothing and bedding, as the skin gets hot, that heat is absorbed. As the skin cools, that heat is released, which produces a more regulated body temperature.

Wicking is reactive – your body has sweat; PCM is proactive – managing temperature to reduce sweat.

The material on this website is provided for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.