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A textile journey to Olympic Gold

By Christian Guinet, Secretary General, French Textile Equipment Manufacturers Association (UCMTF), 30 Jun 2022


It was a very proud moment for us at UCMTF, the association of the French textile equipment manufacturers, when Kristian Blummenfelt claimed the Men’s Triathlon Gold Medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on 26 May 2021.


The Norwegian completed the course – swimming for 1.5 kilometres, cycling for 40 kilometres and running a further 10 kilometres – in just 1 hour, 43 minutes and 4 seconds. And for the duration he wore a highly technical outfit tailored to the demands of the event.


The Skinsuit was designed by the Norwegian company Trimtex, a specialist in customised sportswear for triathlons, as well as for running, cycling, cross country skiing and many other extreme activities. The highly-technical all-in-one “tri-suits” of Trimtex have been developed to provide a perfect combination of aerodynamics and optimal hydrodynamics.




Behind the scenes, the fabric for Kristian Blummenfelt’s latest tri-suit was designed and produced by Payen, a company based near Lyons in France.


Founded in 1839, today Payen is a vertically integrated operation, from extruded polymer to technical finished fabrics for the medical, military and sportwear markets. Its specialisations include yarn texturing, covering, warping, weaving and finishing.


The company’s commercially-available Pagastic is an elastane-covered polymer yarn with highly durable elastic properties. Payen has the in-house know-how, accumulated over many decades, to weave, dye and finish bi-stretch warp and weft fabrics based on Pagastic.


This can be a challenge, according to the company’s dyeing specialist Manuel Andujar, because the two components do not react in the same way. “It is difficult enough when the elastane makes up 2-5% of the fabric, as in most sportwear garments,” he says, “but in the fabric used by Trimtex the elastane percentage is much higher.”


His commercial colleague, Yves Duchene, adds that for Trimtex, an exclusive fabric was designed, incorporating three new Payen finished fabric technologies – AquaTech for the swimming stage, AeroTech to improve aerodynamic performance when cycling and running, and PhysioTech, designed to get the best physiological performance.


“Our R&D department has developed differentiated compression for each muscle, with high and constant elasticity for extreme comfort,” Duchene explains.




To dye and finish the fabric Payen is using a Rotora machine from Alliance Machine Textile, a UCMTF member company also based near Lyons.


“Payen’s fabric for Trimtex is very light and delicate and to dye and apply the necessary finishes to it, a very soft treatment is required,” says Alliance CEO David Godinaud. “Our Rotora is particularly well suited to this, because the fabric is rolled on a beam which rotates in the machine.


The Rotora is also environmentally friendly, with a liquor ratio of around 1:3, regardless of the loading weight. The control and monitoring are continuous. It is in our DNA to work with partners like Payen and customise our equipment for them and that’s what we did in this case.”


“Service geeks”


Personally, I like to watch triathlon events and am a fan of Kristian Blummenfelt, so it is extremely gratifying that French textile equipment has helped him on his extraordinary journey – even if from quite far away and behind the scenes. Last year he also claimed the Triathalon World Championship and the gruelling Ironman competition.


In new performance fabric development, our members are increasingly becoming closer and closer partners to their customers in order to understand their needs, focus R&D on finding solutions and offer state-of-the-art equipment and the best service.


French textile equipment manufacturers are R&D and service geeks and in general, as SMEs run by entrepreneurs, it is very easy for them to work with customers and go beyond usual business relationships. It’s worth remembering that Joseph-Marie Jacquard – the most well-known inventor of textile machinery – was himself French.

Carmen silla

Christian Guinet, Secretary General, UCMTF


About French Textile Equipment Manufacturers Association (UCMTF)


UCMTF is the trade association grouping the French textile machinery manufacturers. France is the sixth largest textile equipment exporter worldwide and UCMTF members are well known for their standard portfolios, as well as tailor-made equipment. Combined, UCMTF members have a consolidated turnover close to €1 billion.

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