Sheer in Stretch Athletic Wear

A photo of the Sheer in Stretch Athletic Wear team working on their projectSponsor: Under Armour

Team Members: Morgan Gunter, Didem Kiryaman, Rachel Park, Nilu Rajendarn

Project Description: The level of sheerness or transparency of a pair of athletic leggings will, more often than not, determine if a consumer purchases them. This attribute has consistently been a pain point for all those who were leggings, specifically women. Our team collaborated with Under Armour to develop test methods that evaluate the sheerness of the brand’s women’s leggings and that can be used in its factories and mills. Pre-existing methods exclusively use visual impression to measure a product’s sheerness while worn on a fit model. Therefore, our main goal was to develop methods that negated the need for a human subject, creating ones that were objective, repeatable, and reproducible. 

Spectral analysis was the first method we tried, by using a handheld spectrophotometer to measure the transparency and color change values. Each fabric was secured in an embroidery hoop and stretched over a neutral-colored dome. The spectrophotometer was used again to measure at the garment level, where various brands of leggings were worn by a mannequin to provide realistic stretch. For our second method, the same fabrics were stretched over a luminous dome and a light meter measured the luminous flux passing through the fabric. In order to compare all sets of instrumental data with visual perception data, we conducted visual impression trials of each fabric and garment tested. Using the AATCC Gray Scale for Color Change and a pass/fail rating, we evaluated the difference in hue between the user’s undergarment and leggings while in a half-squat. Our team  decided to continue developing the luminous flux method as the results more closely aligned with sheerness rankings given in the visual impression trials. We are working to create a method that uses a luminous conical structure over which tubular fabric can be stretched. This will allow us to determine how stretch affects each fabric’s sheerness level by quantifying the luminous flux at specific areas. Not only will this method ensure that Under Armour develops leggings of an appropriate level of sheerness, but it will most importantly help women of all shapes and sizes feel more confident while wearing them.