Winter fashion No sweat! How the style set is tackling urban jungle with moisture-wicking sportswear made for athletes

Doing battle with the winter elements After all, going from the warm house out into the cold air to the hot office and then dashing back outside can be tough — not to mention a temperature-fluctuating airplane or subway car.

Maybe you’re one of the many adding a wicking shirt to your armor.

The functional under layer that over the last few years has become a favorite of skiers, hikers, runners and other athletes is finding new fans in urbanites, who find a fabric that draws out perspiration, serves as insulation from wind and keeps body temperature stable has purposes beyond the outdoors.

Runners in both hot and cold weather rely on wicking fabrics to keep their body temperature consistent and their skin protected from moisture

Keeping cool: Runners and sports enthusiasts in both hot and cold weather often rely on sleek fitting wicking garments to keep their body temperature consistent and their skin protected from moisture

It complements smooth, fitted silhouettes that fit nicely under other things, from a man’s button-downshirt to a ladies’ cashmere turtleneck.

“Lifestyle” is one of the hottest categories across the board in apparel because it delivers style in a package that people really can get use out of, says Will Manzer, CEO of Eastern Mountain Sports, which recently opened its second Manhattan location. Wicking garments — and shirts, in particular — are leading the way, he says.

“Research today shows that consumers will make apparel purchases based upon look, need and performance,” says Tom Julian, a New York-based trend and retail analyst. “I believe that “products that perform” has been a marketing mantra ever since we saw smart-care clothes come to life as a result of casualization. I think the economy has made it inevitable that apparel has to do more than look nice, be on-trend.”

It helps, though, that the tightly woven fabrics lend itself to the minimalist Prada-like aesthetic, a hit with hipsters, Mr Manzer says. The lightweight polyesters often additionally offer odor-resistant coatings and less irritating flat-lock seams.

Asics running top protects runners from sun damage and eliminates odour by wicking the sweat away from the body Uniqlo

Layering: Asics running top eliminates sweat and odour by wicking sweat away from the body (left). Uniqlo”s heattech top fits neatly under layers for a smooth look and cozy feel (right, available at for $19.90)

“The relationship of form, function and fashion has always been given lip service but now it’s a dramatic trend. Design is driving the aesthetic, but function is a part of the aesthetic, too. Things that are waterproof, slim and streamlined all look very cool,” Mr Manzer says.

The pipeline from the runway to outdoor market largely had been one way until now, but Greg Thomsen, managing director of Adidas Outdoor USA, expects things to change as yesterday’s teenager becomes the coveted 18-49 consumer demographic.

With thin, minimal wicking undergarments you can still look stylish in your Chanel outift and feel comfortable

With thin, minimal wicking undergarments you can still look stylish in your Chanel outift and feel comfortable

They won’t want to give up the performance they’ve gotten from their athletic-heavy wardrobe just because they’re graduating to a different lifestyle, he says.

“There’s a new generation who has grown up with performance-oriented fabrics,” Mr Thomsen says. “They know about fleece and they know about wicking. They know it’s a step up in performance from cotton and wool.”

Sinceits launch in 2003, Uniqlo expected its Heattech products to do well with city dwellers, says U.S. CEO Shin Odake, and they were part of the equation their development. Customers want streamlined style, he says inan email to The Associated Press.

Uniqlo says 200 million Heattech garments have been sold worldwide, ranging from the tops that fit under suits to leggings and tights worn on their own.

“Heattechallows people to stay warm in very cold weather without the hassle of bulky clothing which appeals to urbanites that are always on the move and cannot allow cold weather to slow them down,” Mr Odake says.

But it’s not just the barrier againstcold that appeals to Mr Julian. He’s a frequent traveler, and wearing these slim, thin wicking shirts as a base layer works indoors at conferences and trade shows, which can be unpredictably warm or cold.

“Ihave found that men like to use these shirts as layering for travel — perfect on the plane to keep one comfortable but warm and should the heat become an issue — they allow for perspiration. I am a fan of the Heattech because they have a hand like silk, and they layer well under cotton, wool or cashmere, shirts and sweaters,” Mr Julian says.

They have additional life because they go under weekend clothes or be worn as workout wear, he adds, and they’re very malleable in a suitcase.

Mr Thomsenisn’t sure “wicking fabric” is a conscious choice for some wearers; it’s just become routine to use these garments as the modern undershirt or sweatshirt. “If you have something that looks nice and feels good, why not wear it There’s really no disadvantage.”