Adult onesies made with fleece – a fascinating history.
Many of us already know what fleece is. In fact, fleece has been around for almost the entire lifetime of most of those that are reading this right now. It is a fabric that has become a staple of our clothing materials, and is the preferred material for those that are looking for warm clothing and cozy adult PJs.
But, even though most are familiar with fleece, they have no idea where it came from or what it really is.
A Woolly History
Around 1980, the company Malden Mills (the maker of woolen bathing suits in the early 1900s) invented Polar fleece. It was a light, but strong, pile fabric that was meant to imitate and improve upon the properties of wool.
Wool was a great material of its time, but when it was dry it was itchy and when it was wet it was intolerably heavy and stunk. Which is why the idea of woolen bathing suits doesn’t sound very appealing.
Plastics were starting to solve many problems in the 20th century, so Malden Mills set out to use it to solve the wool problem, as well. Malden started by spinning plastic into a yarn and weaved it into a thin fabric with tiny loops on one side. But when this fabric was brushed, the yarn broke down into individual fibers and the loops puffed up; improving the fabric’s texture, thickness and insulation without increasing the weight. So a new cheap, versatile fabric was born.
The owner of Malden Mills, Aaron Feuerstein, was something of a philanthropist and did not patent Polar fleece. This has allowed the material to be produced cheaply and by many vendors, leading to quick and wide acceptance. During the 1980s, all fleece fabric was generally the same except for the “weight” or thickness of the fleece. The operating rule was: the heavier the weight of the fleece, the more insulation it provided.
Polar fleece is still widely used as a generic term for all outdoor polyester fleeces. The fabric was revolutionary and changed the way we dress for cold weather. It pulled moisture away from the body, it was warm, and dried quickly. But its long-term disadvantage was an unattractive pilling on the surface (the fabric clusters into little balls), after only a few uses.
Patagonia, a clothing manufacturer in California, was developing sportswear for demanding outdoor types and played a large role in the push for the usage of this particular fabric. The company field-tested garments made from new fabrics under the most extreme conditions before endorsing a fabric for its customers. At Patagonia’s request, Malden developed Synchilla, a double-face fabric that had a non-pill texture. The development of Synchilla set record sales during the 1980’s.
Patagonia retained an exclusive on the product until 1987; since then Malden Mills has marketed the fleece fabric under the name Polartec.
This improved version of Polar fleece has a greater flexibility in its range of motion, different weights for a variety of uses, and in general has a much nicer feel. Most importantly, it also has a pile surface that did not pill.
Modern day fleece is made from 100% polyester, much of which is made from recycled plastic items such as soda bottles. Polyester doesn’t absorb water, break down in appearance, or absorb odors. It is soft to the touch, extremely light-weight, and dries quickly. Since it is light-weight, fleece ensures that the wearer remains cool and dry during periods of inactivity while retaining the body’s heat exceptionally well during periods of greater activity.
Today there is an array of technical fleece fabrics available in many different styles ranging from summer-weight, extra dry and extra stretch, to wind and water resistant fleece fabrics. These innovations make fleece the ideal “all weather” fabric.
Bringing Fleece Home
Fleece is no longer reserved for climbers and athletes as there is now a variety of fleece products available to suit every occasion. Indeed, it has found a home in all sorts of clothing.
Micro fleece is thinner but denser in quality than normal anti-pil fleece; by comparison it is more effective at wicking away moisture from the skin and is often used in PJs, mattress covers and baby blankets.
Coral Fleece has a deep pile on one side giving it an almost spongy quality, and is very tactile. This fabric is used in bathrobes and blankets with other uses in pet products and fashion. In fact, in 1999 Time Magazine named Polartec fleece “One of the hundred great things of the 20th century.”
You can enjoy your own cozy fleece with one of our many fleece onesies such as Bumble funzee shown here. If you aren’t sure if a Funzee fleece onesie is for you, we also offer 100% cotton onesies also. Buy the fleece onesie, buy the cotton onesie, or get them both and see which one you like best.