Whether you are looking for the perfect fabric for your new rain jacket, or simply trying to find more information about waterproof fabric, this article will help you get more clarity about what is membrane fabric, what are fabric characteristics, and when to choose softshell fabric over other materials.
What is softshell fabric?
Membrane material or softshell is a material made from a woven fabric that is very flexible and, guess what: very, very soft and comfortable.
This fabric has 3 layers of different materials:
- The upper layer keeps you dry by blocking rain, snow or sleet from getting through;
- The middle layer is the membrane and it holds back the wind while letting through the steam that your body produce while moving;
- The inner layer is made of soft material that keeps you warm while allowing the steam to flow through from inside to outside.
Despite that, membrane fabric is a lightweight material and provides freedom of movement with no additional weight to carry. These qualities make this material popular when extra flexibility for movement is required, like in cycling, running, fitness. It is also used in producing work apparel. The best known membrane fabric is GORE-TEX®.
Because of the soft and comfortable characteristics of membrane fabric, quite often it can be found in children and even toddler apparel like kids rain jackets, overalls and other clothes that keep your kids warm and dry.
To sum up, membrane fabric is waterproof, windproof, breathable AND warm so it is the perfect choice if you are looking for a coat or jacket to:
- Protect you from unexpected rain and wind;
- Keep you warm and maintain normal body temperature;
- Allow your skin to breath and feel comfortable.
In short, membrane fabric is the perfect material for days with changing weather and mild rain or drizzle. The amazing thing is - without making any compromises, it still maintains all of the must have practical features of a waterproof fabric. Because of the soft and flexible material characteristics it is, to our mind, the best fabric for those who value comfortable apparel for more casual everyday lifestyle.
Softshell fabric raincoats and rain jackets in fashion
The trend to experiment with different materials among fashion designers and fabric manufacturers has provided opportunities for functional fashion to evolve. Even Vogue wrote about rainwear becoming the new leather jacket.
On this note, we have noticed that also membrane fabric as a material has entered the rainwear industry and is mostly praised because of its flexibility and customisability. We also decided to devote the SS18 rainwear collection to it.
However, there are only few designers using membrane fabric for coats and raincoats at the moment. Mostly because it is quite expensive material so it makes the finished garment cost more than using nylon, coated polyester, coated cotton, thermo polyurethane (TPU) or others.
Although there are also cheap membrane fabrics and thus jackets, we suggest to be careful when considering these cheaper ones. Because remember - not always, but in most cases price is directly associated with the quality of a design.
Currently there are more and more fabric manufacturers offering different colours, prints and designs for membrane material. Combining the colourful patterns, design and brilliant technical abilities of this material, a fabulous outcome can be achieved.
How to choose the right material for a raincoat?
To put short, the choice of which waterproof fabric to pick for your raincoat is in your hands. Firstly, you have to decide what is important for your everyday life and when you want to wear it. And because there are different types of jackets and coats out there, our suggestion is to first think about the purpose, and then chose the right one for your needs.
We recommend TPU, nylon or polyester fabrics for summer use. Otherwise, softshell raincoats will be perfect for wearing when outside temperature is between 0 to 20 degrees C. Although the membrane fabric inner material is thin, it is quite warm.
Of course you should keep in mind that even the most expensive and best materials are not perfect, and there will be slight trade-off between water resistance/wind-resistance and breathability.
For us the key is the fabric's ability to breathe, keep you warm and protect from unexpected rain and wind. And as a result, we think that together with the right design and print, a waterproof coat is not only functional outfit, but also a classic fashionable overcoat solution for the spring and autumn weather. So if you want a fashionable and practical fabric for your coat, go with membrane fabric!
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