Knitted Fabric Manufacturer of 40 Years Experience


Types of Sportswear Knitted Fabric

Table of Contents

There are different types of Sportswear Knitted Fabric in the market. From Polyester, the most favored to the most durable and stretchable ones like Nylon, Spandex, etc.

Sportswear is no longer just about functionality; it’s also a reflection of style and innovation. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or an occasional gym-goer, the fabric of your sportswear plays a pivotal role in your performance and comfort.

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of knitted fabrics for sportswear, emphasizing the importance of selecting the right material for your athletic pursuits.

Understanding Sportswear Knitted Fabrics

So how do we choose the right type of fabric that best fits our needs? Sportswear knitted fabrics, as the name suggests, are constructed by interlocking loops of yarn, creating a flexible and stretchable textile. These fabrics have gained popularity in sportswear for several key reasons:

  • Elasticity: Knitted fabrics are inherently stretchy, allowing for a wide range of motion without restriction. This quality is particularly beneficial for sports that require agility and flexibility.
  • Design: In the modern era of sports branding and athletic fashion, the design potential of a fabric is paramount. It must possess the ability to hold intricate embroidery and designs. Sportswear is not just about performance; it’s also a statement of style. Therefore, the fabric significantly influences the overall look and appeal of the garment, making it a key consideration.
  • Breathability: The construction of knitted fabrics often leaves small gaps between the yarns, promoting air circulation. This breathability helps regulate body temperature during intense workouts, preventing overheating.
  • Moisture-Wicking Properties: Knitted fabrics excel at wicking moisture away from the skin to the fabric’s surface, where it can evaporate. This feature keeps athletes dry and comfortable, even during sweaty activities.
  • Weight and Durability: Functional sportswear demands both lightweight construction and durability. The fabric must withstand the rigors of exercise and athletic endeavors without adding unnecessary weight. Excess weight in clothing can drain an athlete’s energy and hinder their performance. Therefore, sportswear fabrics must be resilient and long-lasting while remaining lightweight to support peak performance.
  • Comfort: The soft, seamless nature of knitted fabrics minimizes chafing and irritation, ensuring a comfortable fit that won’t distract from your performance.
  • Price: Price is a significant consideration in material selection. Sportswear fabrics should offer compelling performance attributes or unique selling points to justify their cost. This is especially relevant in today’s market, where consumers hold substantial purchasing power, and the sportswear industry faces constant pressure on profit margins.

Types of Knitted Fabrics for Sportswear

Several types of knitted fabrics are commonly used in sportswear, each with its own set of advantages. Let’s explore some of the key varieties discussed in the articles provided:

1. Polyester – The Most Favored

Polyester knits are highly favored in sportswear due to their exceptional durability and moisture-wicking capabilities. These fabrics effectively wick sweat away from the body, keeping athletes dry and comfortable even during the most intense workouts. Their resilience and resistance to wear and tear make them ideal for high-intensity activities, making them a popular choice for sports enthusiasts seeking reliability and performance in their clothing.


  • Affordable
  • Strong and durable
  • Flexible
  • Moisture-resistant


Common Application:

  • Sports bras, leggings, athletic wear, exercise suits

1Moisture Wicking & Dryness1mesh-knit-fabric

2. Spandex – The Flexible Stuff

Spandex, also known as elastane, is the stretchy fabric you see in sportswear. This synthetic material is characterized by its remarkable elasticity, allowing for a full range of motion without compromising garment integrity.

Sportswear crafted with spandex is particularly suited for compression garments, aiding in blood circulation, reducing muscle soreness, and facilitating faster recovery.

Whether you’re sprinting, stretching, or lifting, spandex provides the flexibility and support needed for peak performance.


  • Lightweight
  • Over 500% stretch capacity without breaking
  • Repetitive stretching with full recovery to original length
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Stronger and more durable than rubber
  • Soft, smooth, and supple texture
  • Resistant to body oils, perspiration, lotions, and detergents
  • No issues with static or pilling


  • Sticks to your body

Common Application:

  • Swimsuits, hosiery, exercise wear, surgical hose, undergarments, zentai suits, denims, motion capture suits

2High stretch spandex2rib spandex

3. Nylon – Durable

Nylon is another synthetic fabric widely used in sportswear, recognized for its robustness and durability.

Sports bras, cycling shorts, and compression garments often feature nylon due to their ability to provide excellent support. Its strength ensures that these garments maintain their form and functionality, even during rigorous physical activities.

Additionally, nylon is frequently incorporated as a reinforcement layer in sportswear, enhancing its resilience.


  • Good drapeability
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Strong and durable
  • Easy to wash
  • Resists shrinkage and wrinkling
  • Resilient, pleat retentive
  • Fast drying, low moisture absorbency


  • Deteriorates rapidly when wet
  • More prone to shrinkage
  • Reacts with moisture

Common Application:

  • Swimwear, workout wear, jackets, windbreakers, stockings, hosiery

nylon knitted fabric featuresnylon knitted fabric

4. Merino Wool – Best Fabric for Outdoor Sports

In contrast to synthetic options, merino wool stands out as a natural fiber prized for its unique qualities. This wool, sourced from merino sheep, is exceptionally soft and boasts excellent moisture-wicking properties.

Merino wool-based sportswear is a top choice for cold-weather activities, as it effectively regulates body temperature and prevents discomfort caused by sweat. While it offers warmth and comfort, it may not match synthetics in terms of durability.


  • Cozy
  • Gives extra warmth
  • Easy to wash
  • Easy to care for
  • Soaks up moisture
  • Keeps you dry


  • Durability issues
  • Super expensive
  • Common Application:
  • T-shirts, underwear, long-sleeved shirts, sports shorts

5. Microfiber

Microfiber fabrics are engineered from ultra-fine synthetic fibers, rendering them incredibly lightweight and versatile.

These fabrics combine breathability, water resistance, and windproof properties, making them suitable for sportswear that transitions seamlessly from athletic pursuits to everyday wear.

Microfiber’s fine texture contributes to its luxurious drape and overall comfort, making it an excellent choice for those seeking performance and style in their activewear.


  • Durable
  • Silky and smooth
  • Easy to care for


  • Traps heat strains
  • Common Application:
  • Cleaning cloths, athletic gear, upholstery, and bed sheets

6. Mesh

Sportswear components that require optimal breathability often incorporate mesh fabrics. Mesh fabric is a combination of polyester and spandex. It is characterized by its open, porous structure, allowing air to circulate freely, which helps regulate body temperature during workouts.

Back panels in jerseys, activewear tops, and shorts frequently feature mesh to prevent overheating and enhance comfort during physical exertion. Its ability to provide ventilation makes it a key player in sportswear design.


  • Perfect for warm weather conditions
  • Moisture wicking
  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Easy care and maintenance


  • Not so environmentally friendly
  • Uncomfortable

Common Application:

  • Board shorts, sports team uniform, etc

Mesh fabric features breathability, volatile, prevents overheatingMesh fabric bird eyes

7. Neoprene

Neoprene, a synthetic rubber, is renowned for its insulation and water-resistant properties, making it an essential fabric for water sports and swimwear.

Closed-cell neoprene, the more common type, traps a small amount of water between its layers, using body heat to create a warming effect.

Open-cell neoprene, on the other hand, is softer and more flexible, ideal for activities involving prolonged water exposure.


  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Inexpensive
  • Weather-resistant
  • Water-resistant
  • UV ray resistant
  • Water-proof


  • Not environmentally-friendly
  • Common Application:
  • Popular for knitting wetsuits, drysuits and aquatic wear

8. Scuba Fabric

Scuba fabric, often mistaken for neoprene and referred to as “neoprene-type” or “fashion neoprene,” is distinct from neoprene. It is crafted from spun polyester combined with spandex or lycra using a double-knit technique, wherein two fabrics are simultaneously knitted together.

This unique construction gives scuba fabric a special quality. Some scuba fabric patterns even create the illusion of two different fabrics seamlessly fused.

Due to the fine fibers used in the double knitting process, scuba fabric boasts a smooth surface and a resilient texture similar to neoprene.

However, it sets itself apart by being thinner, more flexible, and having superior draping capabilities.

Despite its flexibility, scuba fabric retains enough body to maintain some structural shape, making it a versatile choice for various sportswear applications.


  • Comfortable
  • Stretchy
  • Smooth surface texture for a sleek appearance
  • Ideal for form-fitting sportswear.
  • Good drapability
  • Resistant to body oils, perspiration, lotions, or detergents.
  • No issues with static or pilling


  • Not as insulating as neoprene
  • Limited breathability
  • May not be as water-resistant as neoprene
  • Careful handling required

Common Application:

  • Scuba gear, skirts, leggings, swimsuits, camera cases, laptop bags, blouses and dresses

scuba fabric icon featurescuba knitted fabric

Choosing the Right Knitted Fabric for Different Sports Activities

Fabknitter works with a variety of customers to help them choose the right knitted fabric for sports activities and other apparel designs to optimize function and fit concerns.

Selecting the appropriate knitted fabric for your specific sport or activity is crucial to optimize performance and comfort. Here, we’ll delve into various sports activities and discuss the specific knitted fabrics best suited for each:

High-Intensity Sports (e.g., Running, HIIT):

  • For high-intensity activities that involve a lot of sweating, moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester and nylon-spandex blends are ideal. These fabrics efficiently transport sweat away from the body, keeping you dry and comfortable.
  • Look for fabrics with good breathability to allow excess heat to escape and prevent overheating.
  • Consider knits with a four-way stretch for maximum freedom of movement during dynamic workouts.


Yoga and Pilates:

  • Activities like yoga and pilates require fabrics that offer exceptional flexibility and comfort. Opt for soft and stretchy materials such as Lycra or elastane blended with cotton.
  • Choose fabrics with good shape retention to maintain the integrity of your clothing during various poses and stretches.
  • Breathability is still important, even in low-impact exercises, to prevent discomfort caused by trapped moisture.


Water Sports (e.g., Swimming, Surfing):

  • Neoprene and scuba fabrics are excellent choices for water sports. They provide insulation to keep you warm in the water, making them suitable for surfing or diving in colder conditions.
  • Neoprene is especially effective for activities that involve prolonged exposure to water, as it retains a layer of water against the skin, which is then heated by the body for insulation.
  • Ensure a snug fit for water sports to prevent excessive water circulation within the suit, which can lead to cooling.


Winter Sports (e.g., Skiing, Snowboarding):

  • When participating in winter sports, clothing should provide excellent thermal insulation to keep you warm in freezing temperatures.
  • Fabrics like merino wool are highly recommended for their superior warmth and moisture-wicking properties. Merino wool can regulate body temperature even when wet, making it an ideal choice for snow sports.
  • Look for garments with a good balance between insulation and breathability to prevent overheating during strenuous activities on the slopes.

Outdoor Activities (e.g., Hiking, Cycling):

  • Outdoor sports require versatile fabrics that can adapt to changing conditions. Consider lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics that offer both insulation and breathability.
  • Synthetic fabrics like polyester are popular for their durability and ability to repel moisture in unpredictable weather.
  • Garments with zippered vents or adjustable features can help regulate temperature during outdoor adventures.

Outdoor Sports cycling sporstwear knitted fabric

Contact Sports (e.g., Football, Rugby):

  • In contact sports, durability and abrasion resistance are paramount. Fabrics like nylon-spandex blends or polyester with reinforced areas are ideal to withstand the rigors of physical play.
  • Look for fabrics with good elasticity to provide the necessary flexibility for quick movements and tackles.
  • Moisture-wicking properties are also essential to keep you dry during intense physical exertion.

Indoor Sports (e.g., Basketball, Volleyball):

  • For indoor sports that involve fast-paced movements and jumping, lightweight, breathable fabrics with moisture-wicking capabilities are essential.
  • Fabrics like Lycra or polyester blends provide the necessary stretch for agility and comfort.
  • Consider garments with flatlock seams to prevent chafing during extended play.


Considerations like effective moisture management, protective features, breathability, elasticity, comfort, and even adaptability to changing weather conditions should take center stage in your decision-making process.

Prioritizing these vital aspects empowers athletes to enhance their performance to the fullest, all while relishing the ultimate comfort and safety during their sports and exercise pursuits.

Caring for Your Knitted Sportswear

To prolong the lifespan and quality of your knitted sportswear, follow these care tips:

  • Wash your sportswear inside and out in cold water to preserve colors and elasticity.
  • Avoid fabric softeners, as they can affect moisture-wicking properties.
  • Hang your garments to air dry instead of using a dryer to prevent shrinkage and damage.
  • Store your sportswear in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to maintain fabric integrity.


Whether you’re a runner, or swimmer, or engage in high-intensity workouts, selecting the right type of sportswear knitted fabric is paramount for performance, comfort, and style. Ultimately, the right knitted fabric enhances your athletic performance, provides comfort during workouts, and even makes a statement about your personal style.

Investing in high-quality sportswear knitted fabrics is just the first step toward unlocking your full athletic potential. At Fabknitter, we offer a wide range of sportswear knitted fabrics designed to elevate your performance and enhance your comfort. Contact us for a free consultation and free quote.


Contact us

Our team at FabKnitter is dedicated to providing exceptional customer service. We welcome any inquiries, feedback or comments you may have. 

Let's start your project