Which fabric is better for yoga pants, nylon or polyester?

Yoga pants have become one of the indispensable items in women’s wardrobes, it helps for sculpting and it’s quite lightweight like a second skin. It is super comfortable that many women perfer to wear them to work.

There are many yoga pants on the market for consumers to choose, different yoga pants are differ from fabrics & designs. However, very few people know about the difference, and not sure which fabrics are better choices for them.

Currently, two yoga fabrics are widely used yoga pants: nylon mix spandex, polyester mix spandex. Both these two fabrics have their own advantages, also higher spandex ratio can be helpful for high quality as well. A wise decision is usually related to your own requirements, if people prefer comfortable and duration, nylon fabric would be good choice; while polyester fabric is good for quick drying and color fastness, as well as anti-pilling.

Basic fabrics impression

To understand what are these two fabrics, and how it performs for yoga pants, we should know some basic information of Nylon and Polyester, as well as their inseparable friend – Spandex.

Nylon

Nylon fabric

Nylon is also called Polyamide, it is a very strong material, and first used as ropes. Later, it’s invented as replace fabric for silk, so nylon fabric is actually very stretch and soft, while remain strong. Also, nylon fabric is scratch-resistance, which makes it very durable.

Nylon fabric is also body oil resistant, so it is widely used in the sportswear industry. With the development of technology, nylon fabric not only is soft and comfortable, but also keeps people warm like cotton.

In China, fabric manufacturers have one specific fabrics called “nylon imitation cotton”, it means it’s actually nylon fabrics, but looks and feels like cotton fabrics. This kind of fabric is soft and warm like cotton, while contains the functions of nylon fabric, such as moisture-wicking, stretch, quick drying etc.

Polyester

polyester fabric

Polyester fabric is first known as rough fabric, so it is actually not soft or comfortable in the begin. Since it’s quick drying and lightweight, polyester is also popular for sportswear or active wear.

With the development of technology, polyester fabric is made to be more and more comfortable, though it cannot as good as nylon, it doesn’t influence people to choose it. One of good advantages of polyester fabric is that it’s anti-pilling, when it’s used in clothing, it stays as new for a long time.

Another advantage of polyester fabric is that it’s durable to heat, so it’s perfect for digital printing and have good color fastness. Normally, high quality polyester fabrics are smooth and with bright color.

Spandex

Spandex is also known as elastane, because of its elastic. It can stretch to a certain length and recover to the original shape, so it makes spandex fabric indispensable in the clothing industry.

What’s worth to mention is, spandex may lose its elasticity if stretched too much, so spandex is usually used as mixtures in other fabrics.

There’s a famous brand for Spandex named Lycra, it’s a trademark by DuPont’s. Lycra is also considered as high quality spandex. So many brands declare that they use Lycra spandex in their clothing, to show it’s quite high quality.

Lalaloga yoga pants made by Lycra

Popular fabric components for yoga pants

With above introduction, you may have an idea of Nylon fabrics, polyester fabrics, spandex fabrics. Now let’s see how it’s used in yoga pants.

Since spandex is not usually used as fabric on it’s own, it’s usually mixed in other fabrics. There’s two fabrics that’s widely used in yoga pants – nylon mix spandex, polyester mix spandex. Other fabrics such as bamboo fabrics, rayon fabrics are also used in yoga pants, here we only discuss below two options.

Nylon mix spandex

nylon fabric mix spandex

Nylon fabric is slight stretch, but it’s not enough for sculpting. To make yoga pants very tight & sculpting, spandex is mixed into nylon at a ration about 10%~15%. With a good pattern, it’s actually perfect for bum sculpting and tummy control.

Brands usually used different spandex ratio and different patterns to achieve different functions. For example, if bum sculpting and tummy control is required, spandex ratio is higher. On the other wise, if comfortable is the top priority, spandex ratio is lower.

Now technology is improving, the high support yoga pants can do 35% spandex with 65% nylon. But it has a high requirement for the machines & technology.

Polyester mix spandex

polyester fabric mix spandex

Unlike Nylon, polyester fabric is not good stretch by itself, to reach a good shaping, above 15% spandex is mixed into polyester, the most common ratio is 20% spandex into 80% polyester. In this case, spandex is helping not only for sculpting, but also for more comfortable.

Polyester fabric is easy to print, and itself has good color fastness, so for printing yoga pants, polyester fabric should be better choice.

Nylon fabric, on the other wise, is colored by acid dyes, the new popular printing for nylon fabric is tie-die printing.

Advantages of polyester & nylon fabrics

In this article, we discuss only fabrics for yoga pants. Also, to make it easy memory, we call nylon mix spandex fabric as nylon fabric, polyester spandex as polyester fabric.

What’s in common

Since these two fabrics are used for yoga pants, it meets some basic requirements of yoga pants of course.

  • 4 way stretch & sculpting: both nylon & polyester are four way stretch and sculpting, because they both mixed spandex into them, and the more spandex is in, the better stretch is. However, under the condition of the same ratio of spandex, the stretchability of nylon is better than that of polyester, because nylon itself is also elastic.
  • Lightweight: both fabrics can be very lightweight, and it’s largely depends on different seasons and usage. Commonly use fabric weight is 200g, 220g, 280g etc.
  • Squat-proof: squat-proof is a key requirements of yoga pants, which both nylon & polyester can meet it. Nylon is more easy to meet this target, while polyester is more likely depends on high quality.
  • Sweat-wicking: polyester is quick drying and breathable, so it has better sweat-wicking. Nylon is also good for sweat-wicking, but it’s not as good as polyester, because it’s not good insulating. With development, this situation is improved a lot, which mean nylon is good sweat-wicking fabric as well.
nylon fabric yoga pants-you can see the knee shape

polyester fabric yoga pants-it’s more smooth

Nylon pros

Now let’s take a look at advantage of nylon fabric over polyester fabric.

  • More comfortable: nylon fabric is invented as replace of silk, so it’s very soft and comfortable as second skin. Though technology has improved a lot for polyester, it can’t beat out nylon fabric.
  • Warmer: nylon fabric is warmer than polyester, so it’s better choice when used for Autumn & Winter.
  • More stretch: nylon itself it stretch, so if spandex ratio is same, nylon is better stretch.
  • More durable: nylon is very strong, and it’s scratch resistance, so it’s more durable when used for yoga pants. It may have a problem of pilling, but it’s almost fixed due to technology improvement.
  • More choices: with development of technology and requirements from market, nylon fabric is more likely to do immitations, such as immitation of leather, immitation of animal pattern.
Lalaloga’s new style, immitation leather made by nylon fabric

Polyester pros

Polyester fabric has it’s own advantages too, let’s take a look.

  • More quick drying: both fabrics are low water absorption, and polyester performs better, it makes it more quick drying.
  • Easier print: polyester fabric is better durable for heat, so it acts good for digital printing, which protects environment better. Nylon is not easy printing, and the good way to color nylon is acid die.
  • Cheaper: Due to different production processes, the production quantity of polyester is much larger than that of nylon, so polyester is also cheaper.
  • More anti-pilling: Polyester is better anti-pilling, early yoga pants made of nylon were found to be easy to pilling, but it has improved a lot with new development of technology.
tie die print style by nylon fabric
digital print by polyester fabric

What’s the big brands choice

We have know much about nylon & polyester fabrics, and let’s take a look what brands choose. Keep in mind that brands considers many issues such as return rate, defective rate, product life etc. So if you only look at functions, you may make a different decision.

  • Lululemon: What we want is comfortable, always nylon mix spandex of course.
  • Gymshark: We may be cheaper, but we prefer nylon as well.
  • Sweaty Betty: We want to provide different choices of functions to customers, so we want nylon & polyester both.

Though they all may prefer nylon fabrics, but they have different technology and different components, if interested, you can go their website and see what’s the difference.

Polyesters fabrics are widely used in yoga pants as well, you can have a look at the components when you are making decisions.

Summary

The most popular fabrics for yoga pants are nylon mix spandex & polyester mix spandex. They are both 4 way stretch, squat-proof, moisture wicking, quick drying.

They also have their own advantages, nylon is more comfortable, warmer, durable, and stretch; polyester is more quick drying, anti-pilling, easy printing. Though many many brands prefer nylon mix spandex, you can choose what’s suitable for you based on your own requirements.

Catherine Dong
Catherine Dong
Hi, I am Catherine, marketing of Lalaloga Athletics. Let's share information for yoga apparel.

2 Responses

    1. Hi Jia,
      Thanks for your msg.
      There’s no best ratio, because different fiber makes different effect. Now what’s commonly used ratio is 18%-31% Spandex mix 82%-69% nylon. The more spandex is, the higher compression. So it’s based on what kind of wear you are making.

      Hope this information helps.

      Best Regards
      Catherine.

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