Neoprene -- you know, the stuff they make wetsuits out of -- is now a popular fashion fabric!
Is it time to jump on the bandwagon?
Doing a little online research, I've learned that neoprene and scuba knit, two names often used interchangeably, are not exactly the same thing: neoprene has a foam core; scuba knit is more like ponte, i.e., a double knit. But they share many of the same properties: they're spongy, stretchy, synthetic, and tend to hold their shape, as opposed to draping (like jersey).
They're also rather expensive. All the neoprene I've seen is in the $20-25/yd. range. For that kind of money, I'd rather sew with wool or silk -- something classic, luxurious, and breathable.
Is neoprene/scuba knit fashion here to stay? I wonder.
I remember when polyfleece (aka fleece) became a "thing", showing up first as hiking gear, roughly 20 years ago. It seemed miraculous -- lightweight, warm, and waterproof. As I recall, it was also expensive. Soon, however, fleece was absolutely everywhere. Most people I know are sick of the stuff.
In menswear, neoprene is showing up mainly as spongy outerwear.
|Not a good look if you ask me.|
The lighter weight scuba knits come in some unusual prints, colors, and textures.
The fact that these knits tend to hold their shape gives them a somewhat futuristic look. In my opinion, futuristic looks flatter the very young more than people my age, but what do I know? I've only seen it on young people!
I took some neoprene/scuba knit swatches home from the fabric store and played with them a little. I serged two pieces together and topstitched down the (stiff) seam allowance so it would lay flat. The topstitching shows up very dramatically.
That was fun.
But for all its cool visual properties, I find neoprene boring. Basically you serge all your seams together, stitch down your seam allowances, and end up with....a stiff, spongy, and (dare I say it?) sweaty hoodie.
Readers, what are your thoughts about neoprene? Do you wear it? Do you like it?
Are neoprene and scuba knit the change that we've been waiting for, or are these fashions merely the Twenty-First Century equivalent of that Seventies embarrassment, the double-knit polyester leisure suit?
Are we going to look back at this trend in a decade or so and wonder, What were we thinking?