Action is built into the very fabric of new clothes for sport. They all stretch, but now there is a difference: "stretch" used to mean tight pants, one-size socks, girdles and grow-with-the-baby clothes. This spring it also means fabrics that expand in one specific direction when the body is in motion. In motion here, racing along Malibu Beach, are the William Gerritt Coopers and their daughters, all clad in denim that expands on the horizontal. For what makes the stretch, and who makes the clothes, see the following five pages.
In the California spirit, Glenn Cooper (left) and husband Gerry (above right) excel at many sports. Glenn was Pacific Coast water ski champion at 16 and is a tournament-winning tennis player. Gerry races speedboats, has ridden the white water of the Colorado River and climbed Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii on a motorcycle. Both like horizontal stretch in their tennis clothes. Stretch fabrics that have swing room built right into the weave make possible the uncluttered design of golf jackets like Peter Charlton's (lower right, shown teeing off at Los Robles Greens). The gussets, pleats and elastic inserts characteristic of golf clothes in the past have been replaced by up to 40% horizontal stretch in a Dacron-cotton- Lycra fabric that also has a water-repellent finish.
Riding clothes, which must fit snugly to prevent chafing, are improved by stretch. The breeches worn by Pauline Candy (left) are of a Helanca-and-rayon fabric that flexes on the vertical. Her all-cotton ratcatcher shirt has a small amount of horizontal give. Peter Charlton's western jacket and jeans show the new direction for denim: both have a big give sideways. The neck-stretching colt belongs to the Conejo Ranch. Both Peter and Jo Anne Charlton bowled in the 170s before they started wearing stretch bowling clothes. However, the Dacron-worsted-and- Lycra slacks he is wearing are a natural for bowling, as well as walking, squatting, sitting or golfing. Jo Anne's one-piece culotte of sand-colored Dacron-cotton-and- Lycra poplin gives easily as she follows through. Stretch fabrics are also being used for the first time in men's tuxedos, summer sport jackets, suits and raincoats and are the most significant development in comfortable and casual apparel since wash-and-wear.
Man-made stretch fabrics can be classified in three main groups.
False twist: Helanca, a process of twisting nylon yarn, heat-setting it and untwisting it before weaving, was the forerunner of this group. Developed by a Swiss firm, Heberlein, Helanca stretch nylon-and-wool was first used in ski pants by the Bogners in 1952. Since then other firms using twist and heat-set methods have created similar stretch yarns, which are called, as a group, false twist.
Slack mercerization: This process is applied after weaving to linen or cotton fabrics, such as shirtings, which are crimped and set with resins or chemicals.
Spandex: This is a synthetic yarn whose recovery lasts up to 10 times longer than that of rubber and is used for power-stretch items such as swimsuits and girdles. There are several trade names for spandex: Du Pout's is Lycra; U.S. Rubber, Vyrene; Chemstrand, Spandex C; and Firestone, Spandelle. Lycra has been used as a core around which other fibers have been spun, varying its surface appearance. Called core-spun Lycra, its typical use is in suits and sport clothes.
WHERE TO BUY
Pages 42 and 43: Glenn Cooper's stretch denims are 75% cotton, 25% stretch nylon (all denim here is false-twist stretch). Pullover top ($10) and pants ($7) are by Valor, at Higbee's, Cleveland. Gerry's denim windbreaker ($20) is 71% cotton, 29% stretch nylon, by Mighty-Mac, at Phelps-Terkel, Beverly Hills. His stretch-denim Levi's ($7) and the children's ($5) are at Macy's, New York.