The textile industry appears to be following the example of the food industry as clothes with some healthy ingredients like vanilla underwear, stockings with aloe Vera and vitamin C T-shirts are touting the bio-functional range of clothes.
"Various techniques are applied in the production of bio-functional textiles. One method involves simply putting the substance on the surface of the material," said Hans-Juergen Buschmann, a chemist at the German textile research centre in Krefeld.
Aloe vera's medicinal uses are well known and the fact that it is used as a moisturizer in cosmetics has also prompted textile makers to try it out on clothes as well. However there is a danger that too many washings could sweep away these protective ingredients, "Therefore, the technique is used on nylon pantyhose, for example, because they tend to have a shorter life anyway," said Buschmann. Much research has been focused on averting this and a Japanese firm has come up with a fibre containing a substance that turns to vitamin C after coming in contact with the skin, "It's been demonstrated that the substances can be absorbed through the skin," said Uta-Christina Hipler, director of the laboratory at the clinic for dermatology at the university in Jena. Certain clothes are also scented with vitamin E. Buschmann said that manufacturers have recently begun supplying extra microcapsules to consumers so that they can counter the effects of washings. Clothing with cyclodextrines is becoming popular since these garments not only release scents, but also store smoking odors. "It will smell strong for a short time, and the hollow compartments will be empty again," Buschmann said.