Polartec announced the 12 recipients of this year’s 2023 Apex Awards, recognizing a dozen labels and designers for their work pushing the boundaries of material innovation using the Milliken brand’s eco-minded textiles.
According to the Spartanburg, S.C.-based company most famous for fleece, the judges examined how the hundreds of award entries keyed into “Made to Go Beyond,” the pillar of brand values that Polartec unveiled last month.
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“Polartec has evolved, and by updating its ethos and aligning it with contemporary values, we will be better positioned to connect with customers who prioritize sustainability and innovation in their purchasing decisions,” Eric Yung, Polartec managing director, said on Oct. 11. “Made To Go Beyond perfectly reflects how Polartec questions the norm and is brave enough to create change. It shows character, resilience, and a drive to face challenges head on because we care.”
Judges said the Nike ACG Wolf Lichen Caps mid-layer hoodie “ticks all the wearability boxes” with temperature regulation and quick-drying properties while nodding to environmental impact by employing recycled content.
Indyeva’s Satu Polartec Isothermal Skirt was credited for its “creative use of technical fabrics.” Tough-wearing, pill-resistant and offering lightweight warmth, judges said the Montreal outdoor women’s brand’s skirt gives female explorers a stylish option that’s made for challenging adventures.
The first to adopt Polartec’s new Power Shield with Biolon nylon plant-based membrane, Italian cycling brand Santini garnered accolades for how the waterproof Adapt Multi Jacket wears like a jersey while modulating the body’s thermostat based on what the weather’s up to. The “no compromise” garment officially launches for fall 2024.
Spoonflower‘s mission to reduce textile waste by printing on demand also got the judges’ attention. The North Carolina fabric printing marketplace signed on with Polartec nearly two months ago, inking a deal to bring the textile maker’s 200 Series Fleece fabric on a per-yard basis to millions of users. Those in the Spoonflower community can use their own design or choose from the platform’s more than 1 million options, offering accessible “bespoke” options for DIY hobbyists and businesses alike.
Spanish outdoor label Trangoworld packed several different Polartec fabrics into the TRX2 Hybrid LT Pro Jacket, including the Alpha insulation and Power Air knit construction, which sheds fewer microfibers versus conventional versions.
Polartec’s judges said “all-in-one” products such as Millet’s Trilogy MXP Power Wool Suit are “trending for a reason.” Co-created with athlete input, the garment leverages the two-for-one benefits of Polartec Power Wool, including the close-to-skin odor-eating merino layer with a tough synthetic sealing it all in and keeping cold spots at bay.
Hailed as the “lightest, most breathable, and packable active insulation fleece on the market,” Senchi Designs’ “minimalist” and “multipurpose” Alpha 60 hoodie incorporates recycled materials.
Judges said another hoodie, this time from Munich’s Acronym, “strikes a great balance between style and function.” The J117-HL’s semi technical garment employs Polartec’s High Loft fabric, a partly mesh fleece that doesn’t sacrifice warmth.
From Rabbit, the California-headquartered specialty running brand, the Fuel n’ Fly 4″ shorts use Polartec Power Dry and Bluesign-certified mint oil-based Fresh Face to minimize odors and moisture for enhanced comfort. Judges describe the bottom as an “outside-the-box solution to an age-old issue.”
Targeting the “urban warrior,” the Mountain Martial Arts MMA Polartec Power Grid Zip Hoodie 2 offers breathability and flexibility for high-octane activities.
The plant-based membrane in Polartec’s Power Shield fabric stars in the Race Jacket windbreaker from Milanese outerwear brand Ciesse Piumini. Judges noted the “modern aesthetic” of the anorak silhouette, where technical textiles and sustainable innovation meet outdoor-ready function.
Canada’s Arc’teryx got the nod for its Kyanite Crew Neck women’s pullover. Made with Polartec Power Stretch Pro fabric, the mid-layer garment offers four-way stretch and a nylon surface designed to hold up to wear and tear.
Polartec is also collecting votes through its social media channels for a People’s Choice winner. The result of those votes will be reported in the coming weeks.
For Alessandro Perseo, Polartec marketing director, the “Made to Go Beyond” mantra evokes the brand’s commitment to “solving problems” and finding “sustainable solutions for today’s challenging environment.”
“Polartec is Made To Go Beyond, it always has been,” Perseo said. “We are Polartec and together we will layer the future.”