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Article: Lycra vs Spandex: What’s The Difference?

Lycra vs Spandex: What’s The Difference?

Lycra vs Spandex: What’s The Difference?

When it comes to choosing the perfect activewear, the terms "lycra" and "spandex" are often used interchangeably. But are they really the same thing? In this article, we delve into the world of these two fabrics, exploring their differences, benefits, and applications. Whether you're a fitness enthusiast, a sports lover, or simply someone who values comfort and flexibility in your clothing, understanding the distinctions between lycra and spandex will empower you to make informed choices when it comes to your activewear wardrobe.

What Is Lycra?

Lycra, also known as elastane, is a synthetic fiber renowned for its exceptional stretch and recovery properties. Developed in the 1950s, Lycra revolutionized the textile industry by providing a fabric that could stretch up to seven times its original length and return to its original shape without losing elasticity. This unique characteristic makes Lycra a popular choice for activewear, swimwear, and underwear. Its ability to enhance comfort, flexibility, and freedom of movement has made it a staple in the wardrobes of active individuals worldwide.

What Is Spandex?

Spandex, also referred to as elastane in some regions, is a synthetic fiber known for its remarkable elasticity. Originally developed in the late 1950s, spandex quickly gained popularity due to its ability to stretch up to 600% of its original length and snap back to its original shape. This fabric is commonly used in a wide range of applications, including sportswear, dancewear, and compression garments. With its excellent stretch and recovery properties, spandex provides a snug and supportive fit, allowing for unrestricted movement during physical activities.

What’s The Difference Between Lycra vs Spandex?

Lycra is a trademark and brand name for spandex, similar to how Kleenex is a brand name for facial tissues. Lycra is a specific type of spandex that is manufactured by the company Invista. However, in everyday usage, the terms Lycra and spandex are used synonymously to refer to the same fabric. So, in essence, there is no significant difference between Lycra and spandex. Both fabrics offer exceptional stretch, recovery, and comfort, making them ideal choices for activewear and other garments that require flexibility and durability.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Clothing That Use Lycra or Spandex?

Swimsuits: Lycra and Spandex are widely used in the construction of swimsuits due to their excellent stretch and recovery properties, ensuring a comfortable and form-fitting fit.

Leggings: Lycra and Spandex are popular choices for leggings as they provide the necessary stretch and flexibility for activities like yoga, running, and other fitness routines.

Underwear: Lycra and Spandex are commonly found in underwear, including briefs, boxers, and panties, as they offer a snug and stretchy fit that contours to the body.

Compression Garments: Lycra and Spandex are often used in the production of compression garments, such as compression socks, sleeves, and tights, which provide support, improve circulation, and aid in muscle recovery.

Dancewear: Lycra and Spandex are favored materials in dancewear due to their ability to stretch and conform to the body, allowing dancers to move with ease and flexibility.

Activewear: From sports bras to athletic pants, Lycra and Spandex are frequently used in various activewear garments to provide the necessary stretch, comfort, and durability for active individuals.

Shapewear: Lycra and Spandex are commonly used in shapewear to provide a slimming and smoothing effect, contouring the body and enhancing the overall silhouette.

Cycling Apparel: Lycra and Spandex are popular choices for cycling shorts and jerseys, as they offer a close and aerodynamic fit while allowing for freedom of movement during rides.


How Does Lycra and Spandex React To Heat and Cold Temperatures?

Lycra and Spandex, being synthetic fibers, exhibit different reactions to heat and cold temperatures. In general, both fabrics are known for their ability to withstand a wide range of temperatures. When exposed to heat, Lycra and Spandex have a high melting point, allowing them to maintain their structural integrity without deforming or melting. This makes them suitable for activities that involve heat, such as hot yoga or outdoor workouts in warm climates.

However, it's important to note that excessive heat can cause these fabrics to lose some of their elasticity over time. On the other hand, Lycra and Spandex are also resilient in cold temperatures. They retain their flexibility and stretch even in chilly conditions, making them ideal for winter sports and activities. Overall, Lycra and Spandex are versatile fabrics that can withstand a range of temperatures, providing comfort and flexibility in various weather conditions.

Is There a Difference In Colorfastness Between Lycra and Spandex?

When it comes to colorfastness, there is generally no significant difference between Lycra and Spandex. Both fabrics are known for their excellent color retention properties. They are typically dyed using high-quality dyes that penetrate the fibers deeply, resulting in vibrant and long-lasting colors. Lycra and Spandex fabrics are designed to withstand repeated washing and exposure to sunlight without significant fading or color bleeding.

However, it's important to note that the colorfastness of any fabric can be influenced by various factors, such as the quality of the dye used, the laundering methods, and exposure to harsh chemicals or excessive sunlight. To ensure the longevity of the colors in Lycra and Spandex garments, it is recommended to follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer, including washing in cold water, using gentle detergents, and avoiding prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.

Why We Use Dupont Lycra In Our Underwear

At our company, we prioritize the use of Dupont Lycra in our underwear for several reasons. One of our key achievements was collaborating with suppliers to develop a unique blend of Bamboo Rayon and Lycra fabric for our EveryMan and FreeMan ranges. This blend allows us to achieve a similar level of technical performance as MicroModal, but with enhanced durability.

Our Bamboo Rayon fabric is sourced from sustainable farming practices, using bamboo plants from China that are not the same species consumed by pandas. This ensures that our actions have no negative impact on the vulnerability of these animals. The fabric itself features a lower gauge weave and is combined with licensed Dupont Lycra, resulting in a breathable, cooler, and more resilient fabric compared to traditional cotton underwear.


In conclusion, understanding the difference between Lycra and Spandex is essential for active lifestyle enthusiasts seeking comfortable, durable, and flexible activewear. While Lycra is a specific brand of spandex, the terms are often used interchangeably in everyday usage. Both fabrics offer exceptional stretch, recovery, and comfort, making them popular choices for various types of clothing, including swimsuits, leggings, athletic wear, and more. Additionally, Lycra and Spandex exhibit resilience to heat and cold temperatures, allowing them to withstand a wide range of weather conditions. Furthermore, both fabrics demonstrate excellent colorfastness, ensuring long-lasting vibrant colors in garments. Whether you're hitting the gym, practicing yoga, or enjoying outdoor activities, the knowledge of Lycra and Spandex will empower you to make informed choices when it comes to selecting activewear that meets your needs and enhances your active lifestyle.

Final Thoughts

Elevate your comfort and style with Obviously Apparel's collection of men's underwear. Our meticulously designed trunks, boxers, briefs, thongs, and more feature an anatomical pouch that guarantees an impeccable fit and unparalleled support. Engineered with advanced moisture-wicking technology, our underwear keeps you cool and dry, delivering all-day comfort that you can rely on. Discover the exceptional quality and craftsmanship of Obviously Apparel and redefine your underwear experience.