Yoga is a multifaceted activity as it incorporates asanas (physical exercises), pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation. Yoga is more than just an expression of various poses – the inside-out detox provides time to reset one’s mind and body. Today, yoga and fitness apparel are designed to be worn beyond the yoga studio. This phenomenon, known as athleisure, has become a very adoptable trend, largely in part due to its appeal to a wide variety of consumers for many activities.
Athleisurewear market growth has been attributed to the increase of new products and the average prices of athleisurewear. Whereas sportswear was once viewed as simply functional rather than stylish, athleisurewear bridges this gap between function and fashion. Innovations in textiles and technology have resulted in improvements to functionality, such as more breathable, lightweight and waterproof apparel. These new garments are performance enhancing, in the sense that they allow wearers to carry out everyday activities easily. However, the styles, colors and fabrics of athleisurewear suggest a broader emphasis on fashion when it comes to consumer trends, a detail that fashion and beauty industries are not dismissing.
In order to keep up with demand in an increasingly competitive market, companies are incorporating additive manufacturing techniques to develop new athleisure products, from clothing to accessories. Companies that are involved in 3D printing of yoga apparel and accessories are eligible for the R&D Tax Credit.
The Research & Development Tax Credit
Enacted in 1981, the now permanent Federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit that typically ranges from 4%-7% of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:
- Must be technological in nature
- Must be a component of the taxpayers business
- Must represent R&D in the experimental sense and generally includes all such costs related to the development or improvement of a product or process
- Must eliminate uncertainty through a process of experimentation that considers one or more alternatives
Eligible costs include US employee wages, cost of supplies consumed in the R&D process, cost of pre-production testing, US contract research expenses, and certain costs associated with developing a patent.
On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the PATH Act, making the R&D Tax Credit permanent. Beginning in 2016, the R&D credit can be used to offset Alternative Minimum tax for companies with revenue below $50MM and for the first time, pre-profitable and pre-revenue startup businesses can utilize the credit against $250,000 per year in payroll taxes.
Meditation and yoga are complimentary to each other. They allow one to combine mind and body, centering our energy on breathing. Meditation helps one go beyond the mind’s busy thoughts and to become completely still and silent in a state of pure awareness. When starting yoga, one should have the right gear.
Most workout specialists agree that wearing the right colors makes you feel more confident and energetic, making your workout more enjoyable. Researchers have determined that the brain undergoes mental changes while wearing certain clothing. This is referred to as “enclothed cognition” and can be as simple as when one wears sportswear, they are more likely to go to the gym or work out. The rapidly increasing presence of active lifestyles correlates with the rise of athleisure becoming everyday attire.
For many yogis, striving towards a sustainable lifestyle is just as important as maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit. The elimination of disposable plastic water bottles by depending on a reusable water bottle is arguably the easiest way to begin the transition into a zero waste lifestyle. Reusable water bottles can also be considered an everyday accessory, vital for not only staying hydrated during a hot yoga session, but throughout a day of work and errands as well. With 3D printing, users have the option of designing a unique and environmentally friendly water bottle tailored to their individual preference or even their outfit or yoga mat. Water bottles can be printed in numerous colors and materials, ranging from PLA plastic filament to simple metal.
For many startups, product design and development can be a lengthy and expensive process. However, rapid prototyping by way of additive manufacturing allows designers and engineers to utilize accurate representations of their designs as they further iterate on a final design. The HidrateMe Smart Water Bottle is an innovative water bottle that tracks water intake automatically by using a sensor stick inside the bottle. It sends information to the Hidrate app and glows when it’s time to drink more water. However, the product would not be where it is today without the power of 3D printing. Originally launched on Kickstarter in June 2015, the design of the water bottle and the lid were reiterated and tested multiple times using 3D printed prototypes. For many small companies, manufacturing new products is associated with many challenges, including design issues and unexpected costs. 3D printing alleviates some of these potential setbacks in the early phases of the project.
One popular accessory that can benefit from the power of 3D printing while adding some personal flare are wristbands. Products such as the Apple Watch and the Fitbit can help one stay motivated to improve their health by tracking activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep. It is not uncommon for these devices to become worn down and break over time with extended use. Users with access to a 3D printer can choose from dozens of templates online and create their own unique wristbands, as well as other components including clasps, band retainers and adjustable straps.
Presently, one of the greatest challenges regarding 3D printed clothing in an increasingly fashion-centric world is finding the right materials. Where exercise is concerned, clothing that is 3D printed must also be designed to provide both durability and breathability for high intensity efforts. Flexibility is yet another important factor when considering the development of athleisurewear.
Danit Peleg is a fashion designer best known for her 3D printed fashion, as she has a strong interest in the influence of technology on fashion design. Before graduating from Shenkar, Israel’s top art and design school, Peleg printed the first of its kind: a five-look fashion collection that was printed entirely at home. After months of research that involved extensive trial and error, Peleg discovered Filaflex, a Spanish-made filament that produces a material that is more flexible than other pliable plastic filaments on the market.
Regarding materials science, researchers at MIT Media Lab have also made substantial discoveries while conducting research with the use of a 3D printer. More specifically, they discovered that embedding active bacteria from Japanese fermented soy beans into printed material can help control sweat and humidity by opening and contracting in its presence. Working in conjunction with fashion designers at the Royal College of Art and in collaboration with New Balance, the MIT Media Lab created bioLogic. The fabric comes to life when worn, as it reacts to body heat and sweat that cause flaps around the heat zones to open, which enables sweat to evaporate, thus cooling down the body through an organic material flux. This bio-skin fabric can potentially change the activewear industry.
In the health and fitness industry, 3D printing is predicted to continue to have a significant impact. In EY’s April 2016 global 3D printing annual report, according to 900 surveyed companies, 25% believed that implementing 3D printing within their business model would increase competitive advantage. Firms that utilize 3D printing for yoga clothes and other fitness accessories in any portion of the design phase may be eligible for Federal and State R&D Tax Credits.
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Charles Goulding and Alize Margulis of R&D Tax Savers discuss 3D printing and fitness equipment.
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