What is a lycra fabric?

What is a lycra fabric

​​Lycra fabric isn’t just a material it’s a revolution in comfort and movement. Imagine clothing that bends with your every step, hugs your curves without restriction, and bounces back perfectly after a long day. That’s the magic of Lycra.

A Legacy of Innovation:

Lycra is the brand name for a type of synthetic fibre called spandex. Developed in the 1950s, it quickly became a game-changer in the textile industry. Its incredible stretch capabilities transformed activewear, swimwear, and everyday clothing, allowing for freedom of movement we never thought possible.

The Science Behind the Stretch:

Lycra fibres are made from long-chain molecules that coil and stretch when pulled. This unique structure allows the fabric to expand up to 5-8 times its original size and then snap back to its original shape effortlessly.

Beyond Stretch: The Benefits of Lycra:

  • Unmatched Comfort:
    Lycra’s elasticity allows for a comfortable, close-fitting feel that moves with your body. It eliminates restriction and discomfort, making it ideal for activewear and everyday wear alike.
  • Shape Retention: The recovery properties of Lycra ensure your clothes keep their shape, and wash after wash. No more baggy knees or leggings that lose their compression.
  • Durability: Blended with other fibres like cotton or polyester, Lycra enhances the overall durability of the fabric, making your clothes last longer.
  • Versatility:
    Lycra isn’t just for activewear It’s found in a wide range of clothing, from jeans and leggings to T-shirts and swimwear. Its versatility makes it a wardrobe staple for comfort and style.

Why Lycra Fabric?

Understanding clothing made of Lycra fabric involves recognising its unique properties and the benefits it offers to both garment manufacturers and consumers. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Exceptional Stretch and Recovery:
    Lycra fabric is celebrated for its outstanding elasticity, allowing garments to stretch comfortably to accommodate various body shapes and sizes. Whether it’s activewear, swimwear, or shapewear, clothing made of Lycra provides a snug yet flexible fit that moves with the body.
  • Comfort and Freedom of Movement:
    The inherent stretchiness of Lycra fabric ensures that clothing constructed from it offers unparalleled comfort and freedom of movement. Whether you’re hitting the gym, lounging at home, or dancing the night away, Lycra garments conform to your body’s contours without feeling restrictive.
  • Durability and Shape Retention:
    Despite its stretchiness, Lycra fabric maintains its shape exceptionally well over time. This durability is crucial for activewear and swimwear, which are subjected to frequent stretching, washing, and exposure to harsh elements like chlorine and sunlight.
  • Moisture Management:
    Many garments made with Lycra incorporate moisture-wicking properties, which help keep the wearer dry and comfortable during physical activity. This feature is especially beneficial in activewear and performance apparel, where staying dry can enhance comfort and performance.
  • Versatility:
    Lycra fabric is incredibly versatile and can be found in a wide range of clothing items, from leggings and sports bras to swimsuits and dresses. Its adaptability to various styles and designs makes it a popular choice for both casual and athletic wear.
  • Enhanced Fit and Silhouette:
    Clothing made of Lycra fabric often offers a flattering fit that hugs the body’s curves without feeling constricting. This ability to accentuate and sculpt the silhouette is particularly desirable in shapewear and form-fitting garments.
  • Innovation and Creativity:
    Lycra fabric has inspired countless innovations in garment design and construction. From seamless activewear to compression garments with targeted support, designers continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible with this versatile material.

How is Lycra Fabric made?

The manufacturing process for Lycra clothing fabric involves several key steps, from the creation of the synthetic polymer to the weaving or knitting of the fabric. Here’s a simplified overview.

#1. Polymer Creation: 

Polymer Creation

The process begins with the creation of the synthetic polymer that forms the basis of Lycra fabric. This polymer is typically a polyether-polyurea copolymer, which is produced through a chemical reaction involving various monomers.

#2. Spinning or Extrusion: 

Once the polymer is synthesized, it is transformed into a form suitable for textile production. This usually involves spinning or extruding the polymer into long, continuous fibres. Different methods, such as melt spinning or solution spinning, can be used depending on the desired properties of the final fabric.

#3. Weaving or Knitting:

Weaving or Knitting

The spun fabric is then woven or knitted into fabric on specialized machinery. Weaving involves interlacing the fabric to create a stable fabric structure, while knitting involves looping the fabric together to form a stretchy, flexible fabric.

#4. Finishing Processes:

After the fabric is formed, it may undergo various finishing processes to enhance its properties or appearance. This can include treatments such as dyeing, printing, or coating with additives for moisture-wicking or antimicrobial properties.

#5. Quality Control:

Throughout the manufacturing process, quality control measures are implemented to ensure that the fabric meets the desired specifications for elasticity, strength, and other performance characteristics. This may involve testing samples of the fabric for factors such as stretch recovery, colourfastness, and durability.

#6. Cutting and Sewing:

Once the fabric is produced and inspected, it is cut into pieces according to the pattern of the garment being made. These pieces are then sewn together by skilled workers or automated machinery to create the final Lycra clothing items.

#7. Packaging and Distribution:

After the garments are sewn, they undergo final inspection and are packaged for distribution to retailers or consumers. This typically involves labelling, folding, and packaging the garments in protective materials to ensure they reach their destination in optimal condition.

Where is Lycra mostly used?

Lycra fabric, the gold standard in elastane, continues to evolve in 2024, reaching new heights in commercial applications. Here’s a glimpse into what the future holds:

#1. Sustainable Solutions:

  • Eco-Friendly Lycra Fibers:
    The future of Lycra is sustainable. Brands will increasingly utilize Lycra derived from recycled materials or bio-based resources, minimizing environmental impact.
  • Enhanced Durability:
    New Lycra blends will offer extended garment life, reducing waste and promoting mindful consumption. Consumers can expect their favourite Lycra® pieces to last longer and retain their shape wash after wash.

#2. Innovation in Performance:

  • Temperature Regulation:
    Expect Lycra fabrics that actively regulate body temperature. This could be ideal for everything from extreme weather gear to everyday activewear, keeping you cool and dry during workouts or warm in chilly conditions.
  • Moisture-Wicking Advancements:
    Lycra will continue to improve moisture-wicking capabilities, ensuring exceptional breathability and comfort during physical activity. Imagine sweat being wicked away even faster, keeping you feeling fresh throughout your workout.
  • Targeted Support and Compression:
    New Lycra blends will offer zoned support and compression, catering to specific muscle groups for enhanced performance and injury prevention. This could be a game-changer for athletes seeking that extra edge.

#3. Fashion Meets Function:

  • Seamless Integration:
    Lycra will be seamlessly integrated into a wider range of garments, from office wear to formal attire. Imagine a comfortable and wrinkle-resistant dress with a touch of Lycra for added ease of movement.
  • Shape Retention with Comfort: 

New Lycra blends will prioritize both shape retention and comfort. This could be revolutionary for everyday clothing, offering a flattering silhouette without sacrificing all-day comfort.

  • Luxury Redefined:
    Look for Lycra incorporated into luxury garments for a touch of stretch and comfort without compromising the luxurious feel. This could redefine what it means to look and feel your best in high-end fashion.

#4. Technological Advancements:

  • Smart Clothing with Lycra: Imagine clothes embedded with sensors that track your movement, heart rate, and other fitness metrics. Lycra could be a key component in such smart clothing, ensuring a comfortable fit while gathering valuable data.
  • Biometric Integration: The future might see Lycra® integrated with biometric sensors that monitor vital signs or respond to body temperature changes. This could be revolutionary for athletes or people with specific health conditions.

Where to buy Lycra Fabric?

Lycra, the brand name for Elastane, isn’t just about stretchy gym clothes. Its ability to provide comfort, flexibility, and shape retention has made it a favourite among successful brands across various fashion categories. Let’s explore some unexpected places where you might find Lycra:

Luxury Fashion:



This high-end brand incorporates Lycra into select pieces like leggings, swimwear, and even some dresses. The focus is on creating a luxurious feel with a touch of comfortable stretch, ensuring the garment drapes beautifully.

Stella McCartney: 

Known for her sustainable practices and focus on ethical fashion, Stella McCartney utilizes Lycra with recycled materials in some of her designs. The aim is to offer comfort and shape retention while maintaining eco-conscious practices.

Stella McCartney
Alexander Wang

Alexander Wang:

This edgy designer utilizes Lycra in bodycon dresses and form-fitting tops for a sleek and modern silhouette. The focus is on creating a bold and confident look with a comfortable fit that moves with the body.

Swimwear Speedo

A leader in competitive swimwear, Speedo utilizes Lycra for its exceptional chlorine resistance and durability. The focus is on performance and functionality for competitive swimmers, ensuring their suits retain their shape and offer optimal movement.

Swimwear Speedo
Nike Flyknit

Nike Flyknit:

This innovative footwear technology by Nike utilizes Lycra for a sock-like fit that adapts to the shape of your foot. The focus is on lightweight comfort and a natural feel, which Lycra helps achieve.

Adidas Primeknit:

Similar to Flyknit, Adidas’ Primeknit technology incorporates Lycra for a breathable and supportive upper in various shoes. The focus is on performance and comfort for athletes and everyday wearers alike.

Adidas Primeknit

Supplier Information and Location for Lycra Clothing Fabric

#1. Finding Lycra Fabric Suppliers:

  • The Lycra Company Website:
    The official Lycra website offers a “Solution Finder” tool that can connect you with authorized Lycra fabric suppliers based on your location and desired application. They likely won’t provide supplier names directly, but the tool will guide you towards reputable partners. lycra.com
  • Textile Industry Directories:
    Online directories like TextileWorld or Thomasnet can be used to search for fabric suppliers in your region. Look for companies specializing in performance fabrics or elastics, and check if they mention Lycra as a material they offer.
  • Trade Shows and Events:
    Attending industry trade shows or events focused on textiles and apparel is a great way to network with potential suppliers. Look for companies showcasing Lycra fabrics or featuring partnerships with The Lycra Company.

#2. Things to Consider:

  • Minimum Order Quantities:
    Many fabric suppliers have minimum order quantities (MOQs) which can be high for smaller businesses.
  • Customization Options: Some suppliers offer customization options like dyeing or printing on Lycra fabrics.
  • Sustainability Practices:  If eco-friendly practices are important to you, inquire about the supplier’s use of recycled or bio-based Lycra fabric.

#3. Looking Ahead (2024):

  • Shift Towards Sustainable Sourcing:
    Expect a growing number of suppliers offering Lycra fabrics made with recycled materials or bio-based resources.
  • Transparency and Traceability:
    The demand for transparency in the fashion industry is rising. Look for suppliers who can provide information on the origin and processing of their Lycra fabrics.
  • Technological Advancements:
    New technologies like digital printing or on-demand manufacturing could make Lycra fabrics more accessible to smaller businesses and individual designers.

Iconic Products Made from this Lycra fabric

Lycra, the leading brand of elastane, continues to be a game-changer in the world of clothing.  In 2024, we can expect to see Lycra integrated into a wider range of garments, offering innovative features and pushing the boundaries of comfort and performance. Here’s a glimpse into some iconic products featuring Lycra in 2024.

#1. Comfort Meets Style:

  • Levi’s Commuter by Levi’s with Lycra TENCEL:
    This innovative denim collection from Levi’s combines the classic look of denim with the comfort and flexibility of Lycra. Additionally, the inclusion of TENCEL, a sustainable fabric derived from wood pulp, adds a touch of luxury and eco-friendliness. Imagine your favourite pair of jeans with a comfortable stretch that allows for freedom of movement throughout your day.
  • Universal Standard Hero Ponte with Lycra:
    This size-inclusive clothing brand continues to champion inclusivity with its Hero Ponte line. In 2024, expect their ponte pants and dresses to incorporate Lycra for a flattering fit and all-day comfort, available in a wider range of sizes to celebrate all body types.

#2. Luxury Reimagined:

  • Stella McCartney Eco-Luxe Collection with Lycra and ECONYL:
    This collection from Stella McCartney pushes the boundaries of sustainable luxury. It features elegant dresses and separates crafted from a blend of Lycra and ECONYL, a regenerated nylon made from ocean waste. Imagine feeling both luxurious and environmentally conscious in stunning garments that drape beautifully and offer a touch of comfortable stretch.
  • Wolford Pure Devotion with Lycra Shape Control: 

This lingerie line from Wolford takes shapewear to a new level with Lycra offering targeted support and a seamless, comfortable fit. Expect innovative designs that combine luxury with functionality, perfect for everyday wear or special occasions.

FAQs About the Lycra Fabric

#1. General Lycra Fabric:

What is a lycra fabric

Lycra (sometimes misspelt as “licra” or “licras”) is a brand name for elastane, a synthetic fabric known for its exceptional stretch and recovery.

Is Lycra fabric waterproof? 

No, Lycra fabric itself is not waterproof. However, Lycra can be blended with other waterproof materials to create waterproof clothing.

Is Lycra fabric stretchy? 

Yes, Lycra is a stretch fabric known for its ability to expand significantly and bounce back to its original shape.

What kind of clothes are made from Lycra fabric? 

Lycra is used in a wide variety of clothing, including activewear, swimwear, leggings, jeans, socks, and even some dresses.

What is the difference between Lycra fabric and elastane? 

Lycra is a brand name, while elastane is the generic term for the type of fabric. They are essentially the same material.

#2. Lycra Fabric Material and Blends:

What is Lycra spandex fabric? 

Lycra spandex fabric is simply another way of saying Lycra fabric, as Lycra itself is a type of elastane (spandex).

What is poly lycra material? 

Poly Lycra is a blend of polyester and Lycra. This blend offers both the durability of polyester and the stretch of Lycra.

What is cotton lycra fabric?

Cotton Lycra is a blend of cotton and Lycra. This blend offers the breathability of cotton and the comfort and stretch of Lycra.

What is the difference between Lycra and polyester-lycra fabric? 

Lycra fabric is pure elastane, while polyester Lycra fabric is a blend of polyester and elastane. Polyester Lycra offers more durability and moisture resistance than pure Lycra.

Can Lycra fabric be cotton? 

Lycra itself is a synthetic fabric, but it’s commonly blended with cotton to create cotton Lycra fabric, offering breathability and comfort.

#3. Lycra Fabric Care and Applications:

How do you wash Lycra fabric? 

Follow the care instructions on the garment label. Generally, Lycra fabric can be machine-washed on a gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid harsh detergents and bleach.

Can Lycra fabric be waterproofed? 

Lycra fabric itself cannot be waterproofed, but garments made from Lycra blends with waterproof materials might have a water-repellent finish.

What is a stretchy material fabric called? 

There are many stretchy materials, but Lycra (elastane) is one of the most common. Other stretchy materials include nylon and cotton with spandex.

#4. Similarities and Differences:

Is Lycra the same as spandex? 

Yes, Lycra is a brand name for elastane, which is also known as spandex. They are essentially the same material.

Is polyester spandex fabric the same as Lycra? 

No, not necessarily. Polyester spandex fabric is a generic term for a blend of polyester and elastane (spandex), while Lycra is a specific brand name.

#5. Specific Lycra Garments:

What are Lycra shorts used for? 

Lycra shorts are commonly used for activewear, cycling, and other activities that require freedom of movement and comfort.

Are Lycra pants comfortable?

Yes, Lycra pants are known for their comfort and stretch. However, comfort can vary depending on the blend and quality of the Lycra fabric.

What is a Lycra bodysuit?

A Lycra bodysuit is a one-piece garment made from Lycra fabric, often used for dance, gymnastics, or activewear.

#6. Other:

What is elastane called in English?

Elastane is the English term for the fabric type used in Lycra fabric.

Is elasticated fabric the same as Lycra?

The elasticated fabric simply means the fabric has stretch, and it doesn’t necessarily refer to Lycra (elastane).

Debunking Popular Myths and Facts About this Lycra Fabric?

Myths about Breathability and Comfort:

  1. Myth: Lycra fabric makes clothes suffocating and uncomfortable.
    Fact: While pure Lycra isn’t highly breathable, it’s almost always blended with breathable fabric like cotton or polyester. These blends offer both comfort and breathability.
  1. Myth: You can’t wear Lycra clothing in hot weather.
    Fact: Modern Lycra blends are often lightweight and moisture-wicking, making them suitable for warmer temperatures.
  1. Myth: Lycra loses its stretchiness over time.
    Fact: High-quality Lycra is quite durable and retains its elasticity through multiple washes and wears.

Myths about Care and Maintenance:

  1. Myth: You can’t iron clothes with Lycra.
    Fact: Many Lycra garments can be ironed on low heat. Always check the care label for specific instructions.
  1. Myth: Lycra shrinks easily.
    Fact: Lycra blends are usually pre-shrunk to minimize shrinkage during washing.
  1. Myth: You need to dry clean all clothes with Lycra.
    Fact: Many Lycra garments are machine washable. Refer to the care label for washing and drying instructions.

Myths about Shape and Support:

  1. Myth: Lycra is only for tight-fitting clothing.
    Fact: Lycra can be used in looser-fitting garments to provide a comfortable drape and freedom of movement.
  1. Myth: Lycra offers no shapewear benefits.
    Fact: Lycra is a key component in shapewear, providing a comfortable, supportive fit that sculpts and smooths.
  1. Myth: Lycra makes clothes look baggy over time.
    Fact: High-quality Lycra garments retain their shape well, though some looser styles might relax slightly with wear.

Myths about Environmental Impact and Sustainability:

  1. Myth: Lycra is a non-biodegradable fabric.
    Fact: While not technically biodegradable, advancements are being made in developing eco-friendly Lycra alternatives.
  1. Myth: Lycra production is harmful to the environment.
    Fact: Sustainable practices in Lycra production are continuously being explored to minimize environmental impact.

Myths about Price and Quality:

  1. Myth: Clothes with more Lycra are always more expensive.
    Fact: The price of a garment depends on various factors, not just the Lycra content.
  1. Myth: All Lycra is created equal.
    Fact: The quality of Lycra can vary. Higher quality Lycra offers better durability and stretch retention.

Myths about Versatility and Applications:

  1. Myth: Lycra is only for sportswear and activewear.
    Fact: Lycra is used in a wide range of clothing, from jeans and dresses to socks and underwear.
  1. Myth: Lycra has no place in formal wear.
    Fact: Lycra can be incorporated subtly into formal wear to ensure a comfortable fit without compromising style.
  1. Myth: Lycra is not suitable for professional attire.
    Fact: Lycra can be found in workwear like trousers and skirts, offering comfort and freedom of movement throughout the day.

Myths about Health and Allergies:

  1. Myth: Lycra can cause skin irritation or allergies.
    Fact: While rare, some people might have an allergic reaction to certain dyes or finishes used on garments, not necessarily the Lycra itself.
  1. Myth: Lycra traps sweat and causes body odour.
    Fact: As mentioned earlier, modern Lycra blends can be moisture-wicking, helping to regulate body temperature and minimize sweat build-up.

General Myths and Misconceptions:

  1. Myth: Lycra is the same as elastic.
    Fact: Elastic is a broader term encompassing various stretchy materials, while Lycra is a specific synthetic fabric known for its exceptional stretch and recovery.
  1. Myth: Lycra is a new invention.
    Fact: Lycra was first developed in the 1930s and has been revolutionizing the clothing industry ever since.


As we move into 2024, Lycra fabric continues to be a game-changer in the world of clothing.  We can expect to see Lycra integrated into a wider range of garments, offering innovative features and pushing the boundaries of comfort and performance. Sustainability remains a key focus, with advancements in production methods and eco-friendly Lycra alternatives minimizing environmental impact. Breathability and moisture-wicking capabilities will continue to improve, ensuring exceptional comfort during any activity. From everyday wear to high-performance activewear, Lycra fabric looks set to retain its position as a versatile and essential material in the wardrobes of people who value comfort, style, and freedom of movement.

Read more

Why a Leather Jacket?

What is Elastane Fabric?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here