10 Types of Cotton Fabric for Sportswear

Cotton fabric is a commonly used fabric for sportswear. In its organic form, it contains no synthetic compounds. Since its earliest days, it has been known for its superior breathability and lightness. It is also incredibly soft with relatively high tensile strength and versatility, meaning there are several cotton types used to make a wide array of men’s and women’s activewear.

Choosing an ideal fabric for your sportswear brand is extremely important as it plays a huge role in ensuring a comfortable and effective workout or sporting session. Hence, this is a guide on 10 types of cotton fabric used for sportswear and their distinct features.

Cotton Fabric

Different Types of Cotton Fabric for Activewear – Jersey

Jersey was originally made from wool, but today, it’s made using cotton, cotton blends, and synthetic fibers. Despite its close-knit, jersey cotton fabric is very absorbent and breathable. Additionally, the jersey has several impressive qualities that make it a great cotton fabric for activewear.

Specific Features of Jersey

  • Inherent Stretching Capacity

One of the most notable features of jersey fabric is its stretchiness and close-knit. Cotton jersey fabric does not contain elastic fibers and so gets its ability to stretch from its ‘looping’ method of production. 

The stretchiness of this type of cotton fabric makes it a great choice for clothes worn close to the skin, such as underwear, and for items that require movement, such as activewear.

  • Excellent Drapability

Jersey fabric has a structure that supports great drapability. It offers a versatile type of drape that assumes good configuration on the body and a graceful appearance when used. Although, the intensity of its draping effect will depend on the fiber composition of the material.

Applicable Occasions of Jersey

  • Tight-Fitting Sportswear

Jersey fabrics have high elasticity, which makes them ideal for close-fitting and clingy items. They commonly feature as materials for sports uniforms as they move with the body and do not hinder movement. 

In addition, due to their absorbent and highly breathable structure, they are appropriate for body-hugging athletic wear, such as bike shorts, running wear, tank tops, ski suits, polo shirts, etc.

  • Stretching Exercise Clothing

Jersey cotton fabrics are soft, comfortable, and easily wick away sweat during light activities, such as stretching. While many clothes for exercise have synthetic fibers these days, many of them are still made of cotton fabric types. 

The stretchiness, durability, strength, and attractive drape of the jersey make it a preferable choice for gym wear, yoga clothes, leggings, tracksuits, etc.

Men Jersey Tops

Different Types of Cotton Fabric for Activewear – French Terry

French terry is often made with either 100% pure cotton or a combination of two or more fibers. When it is completely made of pure cotton, it offers a soft and tender feel on the body. French terry cotton fabric offers many benefits, hence why it is popularly used for making sportswear.

Specific Features of French Terry

  • Loopback Construction

This method of production creates a cotton fabric with loops on the inside and a smooth texture on the exterior. As a result of its loopback construction, french terry fabric is completely comfortable, breathable, easy-care, and wicks sweat away. 

Its knitted structure featuring interconnected loops creates a fabric similar to a jersey, which is why French terry is often mistaken for jersey fabric. 

  • Good Resistance to Pilling

Clothes pilling typically occurs due to friction of the fabric or other materials during washing and drying. Because of the strength of the interlocked loops on the fabric, french terry is resistant to pilling and will retain its quality and appearance regardless of how many times it is washed. 

Applicable Occasions of French Terry

  • Sports Clothing with Durability Requirement

The strongly interconnected loops of French terry fabric give it durability. Hence, activewear made with this cotton fabric type can withstand a high level of pulling, twisting, and tugging without damage, and retains its original form even after repeated washing. 

Also, since it is a strongly knitted fabric, it can comfortably resist abrasion. Compared to most cotton fabrics, french terry lasts very long.

  • Sports Garments for Cooler Weather

French terry material can vary between light and mid-weight cotton fabrics, hence, it is especially preferable during cool weather. The breathability of this cotton fabric type makes it suitable for different sports apparel as it aids in body temperature regulation and prevents overheating. 

In addition, it provides a layer of warmth and adequate protection during use in outdoor sporting activities.

Nike Sportswear

Different Types of Cotton for Sportswear – Cotton-Spandex Blend

Cotton and synthetic blends have been around for a long time. The resulting properties from mixing organic cotton fabrics and synthetic fibers are distinctive and offer many benefits. Hence, it is no surprise that this blend and other cotton-synthetic mixtures are widely used in producing sportswear.

Specific Features of Cotton-Spandex Blend

  • Enhanced Elasticity

Containing around 95% of cotton fabric and 5% of spandex, the cotton-spandex fabric is extremely elastic. Made by wrapping cotton fibers on tiny spandex filaments, this material blend allows for more air circulation and bodily fluid absorption than completely synthetic clothes. 

Cotton-spandex blend is used to make sportswear that is very stretchy but protected from wear and tear. 

  • Good Shape Retention

Cotton-spandex fabric can stretch many times its original length and retain its shape. The cotton in this blend supplies its high-tensile strength, which ensures that sportswear maintains its form after washing and doesn’t lose fit as a result of repeated washing cycles. 

This feature also makes them easy to maintain, last longer, and an excellent choice for sportswear.

Applicable Occasions of Cotton-Spandex Blend

  • Sports Bras

Due to its flexibility and shape retention quality, the cotton-spandex fabric is very useful during sporting activities. They are used to make sports bras that offer an improved level of ergonomic comfort during running, jogging, and other sporting activities. 

Since they are more lightweight than many thick cotton fabrics, they ensure the user feels snug and cozy. This material also creates sports bras with good drapability.

  • Leggings

Cotton-spandex leggings provide reliable crease recovery. This blend of fabric results in leggings with high elasticity and sufficient breathability, making them suitable for exercises with various levels of flexibility, such as yoga and pilates. It gives sportswear a perfect fit and prevents material sagging.

Cotton Spandex Women Sportswear Short

Different Types of Cotton for Sportswear – Cotton-Polyester Blend

Cotton polyester is one of the most predominant cotton blends. It combines natural cotton fibers with synthetic polyester (learn: Cotton vs Polyester: Which One to Choose for Sportswear) fibers to create a material with unique properties. The characteristics of this blended fabric, such as its strength and durability, will depend on the percentage proportion of each fiber. 

Specific Features of Cotton-Polyester Blend

  • Enhanced Strength

The mixture of cotton and polyester results in a sturdy and tear-resistant fabric. Typically made of 60-80% of cotton and 20-40% of polyester, this fabric blend is used by manufacturers to make sportswear that is stronger than pure cotton. However, the strength of this fabric is improved when the polyester content is increased in the blend. 

  • Good Wrinkle-Resistance

While pure cotton wrinkles easily, polyester fiber is naturally resistant to wrinkles. Hence, blending these two fibers creates a fabric that is less prone to wrinkling than 100% cotton material. 

Applicable Occasions of Cotton-Polyester Blend

  • Sportswear With Durability Requirement

The cotton-polyester blend creates sportswear that is strong and very durable. The polyester in the blend makes the activewear more resistant to stretching, wrinkling, and shrinking, all of which can lead to early damage. The fabric’s ability to withstand wear and frequent washing makes it an attractive choice for making sports uniforms, running shorts, tank tops, etc.

  • Sportswear in Various Colors

One of the main reasons this blend is widely used is its potential to make products with a wide array of color options. In addition to its moisture-wicking, easy-to-care, and breathable properties, this fabric is used to make bright and colorfully designed sportswear.

Short Sleeve T Shirt

Types of Cotton Fabric for Workout Clothing – Cotton Mesh

Cotton mesh stands out as a popular choice for workout clothing. Its lightweight structure, permeable texture, and good breathability, provide good airflow and cooling effects, which makes this fabric perfect for vigorous sporting events and hot weather conditions. There are also synthetic types of mesh fabric from materials like polyester and nylon.

Specific Features of Cotton Mesh

  • Perforation Appearance

These cotton types are commonly lightweight and airy due to the numerous spaces between the fibers. The large gaps between the fibers mean that the fabric is inherently wrinkle-resistance and there is minimal need for ironing or pressing.

  • Highly Airy

Cotton mesh fabric has an open structure that allows the free flow of air through the material. Unlike cotton fabrics, the spaces in between the fibers of a mesh fabric are responsible for its moisture-wicking, faster drying, and dissipation of heat from the user’s body. This porous pattern also enhances the cooling properties of the material, making it fit for intense sporting activities.

Applicable Occasions for Cotton Mesh

  • Workout Clothing in Hot Weather

Due to its structure, which allows a lot of air circulation through the material, mesh fabric is suitable for workout wear used during hot weather. Its open-weave construction aids ventilation to keep the body cool and prevent the accumulation of moisture. Also, its lightweight and breathable form makes it well-fitted for active pursuits.

  • Clothing for Sports Involving Sweat

Cotton mesh products are the best choice for sporting activities that result in sweating. This cotton type helps in heat dissipation and enables quick drying of sweat. Since it is very airy, it minimizes discomfort caused by excess heat or sweat. It also ensures that the fabric does not cling to the user’s body during exercises.

Cotton Mesh Gym Clothing for Men

Types of Cotton Fabric for Workout Clothing – Cotton Poplin

Poplin can be made from different materials, such as cotton, silk, and polyester. But, these days, most poplin fabrics are made of 100% pure cotton. Cotton poplin fabric has adorable features and an organic nature that gives products a naturally polished look, making workout clothing appear more good-looking.

Specific Features of Cotton Poplin

  • Woven Tightly

Cotton poplin has a very tight weave commonly woven in a simple over-under pattern with fine warp yarns and coarser weft yarns. This feature gives poplin fabrics a soft, crisp finish that is both durable and breathable. Because it is woven tightly, this cotton fabric type is wrinkle-resistant, making it a comfortable choice for many outfits, including sportswear.

  • SmooKEth Surface

Its plain, tight weave gives it a fine texture that is smooth and crisp to the touch, in contrast, to knit fabrics that may feel bumpy or ribbed. Also called tabinet, cotton poplin provides sleek surfaces that ensure activewear looks sophisticated and unwrinkled.

Applicable Occasions of Cotton Poplin

  • Workout Clothing Next to Skin

For good reason, cotton poplin fabric has become a staple in men’s and women’s clothing. Although woven tightly, this fabric has a lightweight and airy texture that assures comfort when worn close to the skin. It does not cling to the body and as one of the hypoallergenic cotton types, it does not cause harm to sensitive skin. 

  • Workout Clothing with Durability Requirement

Cotton poplin fabric is highly durable as it can withstand heavy wear and repeated washing. It also has good shape retention, which makes it proper for gym clothing and stretching wear.

Mens Gym Vest

Types of Cotton for Sports Suits – Pima Cotton

Most cotton types have short fibers, but Pima has longer fibers than most and is considered to be ELS cotton (extra-long staples). Because of its amazing features, Pima is commonly used in making luxury-oriented and high-end clothing. Although they are also great for making regular cotton products. 

Specific Features of Pima Cotton

  • Long Staple Fibers

Pima cotton fabric has longer fibers than most cotton types. While common cotton fibers measure about 1.1 inches, Pima’s are about 1.4 to 2 inches long. As a result, this type of cotton fabric has a high resistance to pilling.

  • Smooth and Lustrous Appearance

Despite its long staple fibers, Pima cotton materials have a smooth finish and incredible texture. In contrast to most sensitive fabrics, this material can be tumble-dried and machine washed without losing its beautiful look.

  • Good Color Retention

Pima cotton is renowned for its exceptional quality and outstanding properties, including color retention. Its long fibers offer high resistance to fading. Sports suits made from Pima cotton fabric maintain their great appearance for many years.

Applicable Occasions of Pima Cotton

  • Sport Suits with Durability Requirement

Pima cotton fabric is used to make sports suits that last for several years. Due to its long staple fibers, this fabric hardly ever piles, allowing it to stay wearable for a long period. It is also resistant to fraying, fading, tearing, and wrinkling, all of which add to improving its durability. 

  • High-end Sports Suits

The longer, silkier fibers of Pima cotton produce a luxuriously soft and durable fabric that is used in making many forms of high-end wear, including sports suits. Its superb quality, smooth appearance, soft texture, and color retention are appreciated and put to use by a lot of sportswear manufacturers.

Cotton Workout Crop Top

Types of Cotton for Sports Suits – Supima Cotton

Supima is a high-quality cotton fabric grown in the USA. Its extra-long fibers give it premium qualities, such as apparel strength and softness. As one of the lushest cotton fabrics, Supima is used to create sumptuously soft, high-class, and luxuriant activewear. 

Specific Features of Supima Cotton

  • Extra-Long Staple Fibers

Supima cotton fabric has extra-long staple fibers, averaging 1.5 inches. This extra length makes it more tensile than others and easier to make top-quality yarn. Although very similar to Pima cotton fabric in terms of properties, they differ in their method of production and certification. 

  • A Natural Sheen

Supima cotton has a natural sheen that makes it more valuable than other cotton fabrics. This feature makes it a good substitute for silk. The fibers of this cotton type absorb dye with deeper penetration, which allows products to keep their brilliance even after years of use. 

Applicable Occasions of Supima Cotton

  • Sports Suits Requiring Long-Lasting Quality

Supima is much stronger than regular cotton, which makes for resilient sports suits. Its extra-long fiber is pilling, breaking, and wear-resistant, resulting in tough sportswear that keeps its form and quality for long periods.

  • High-Class Sports Suits

Supima fibers make very fine yarns, which ensure soft, luxurious, and classy sports suits. Its lasting color penetration enables the production of vibrant shades of colorful sportswear that personalize the style. 

Supima Cotton Crew Neck Tank Top

Cotton Fabric Types for Sports Apparel – Organic Cotton

Organic cotton is highly sustainable and durable. It is extracted from natural seeds and does not undergo any modification, which is why its features stand out among other cotton types. Sports apparel made from organic cotton fabric offer benefits not only to the users but also to the environment.

Specific Features of Organic Cotton

  • No Synthetic Chemicals

Organic cotton is cultivated using environmentally friendly methods and materials that don’t produce any dangerous chemicals. Its natural, gentle harvesting process results in soft and long-lasting fibers that create some of the best cotton products. 

  • Hypoallergenic Property

Organic cotton fabrics are a better choice for skins with allergies and chemical sensitivity. With increasing interest in organically grown cotton, this fabric is used to make activewear and sportswear in a variety of colors and styles.

Applicable Occasions of Organic Cotton

  • Sports Apparel Next to Skin

Due to its hypoallergenic property, organic cotton fabric is a go-to material for making skin-tight jerseys, tops, shorts, suits, and other sports apparel. In addition, this type of cotton fabric is very absorbent, lightweight, soft, and breathable, allowing it to provide utmost comfort to the user. 

  • Sports Apparel with Environmental Consciousness

Compared to other fabrics, organic cotton is an eco-friendly option, because of its manufacturing process. Less energy and water are required, and minimal greenhouse gases are emitted in its manufacturing process. Furthermore, its manufacturing process is beneficial to the soil as it improves the soil quality.


Cotton Fabric Types for Sports Apparel – Recycled Cotton

As companies and brands continue to evaluate their production footprint, sustainability has grown to be a topic of major interest. Having its main source as pre-consumer waste, recycled cotton is a highly sustainable and natural fiber used to make amazing sports apparel. 

Specific Features of Recycled Cotton

  • Waste Reduction

Recycling cotton fabric reduces an immense amount of waste by diverting materials from landfills. This decreases the environmental impact of textiles and results in the production of new useful materials. In addition to its waste reduction, this fabric maintains as much quality as regular cotton.

  • Energy Saving

Recycled cotton demands much fewer resources than conventional cotton types. It aids in saving energy as no new fabrics are produced and since this cotton type is sourced from used textile scraps, the yarns are already dyed.

Applicable Occasions of Recycled Cotton

  • Eco-Friendly Workout Clothing

Recycled cotton fabric is used to make sustainable, earth-conscious workout wear with good quality. This fabric also creates sports apparel with outstanding temperature regulation, making them appropriate for hot weather.

Recycled Cotton Activewear

Get High-Qualified Workout Clothing of Cotton Fabric From UGA

UGA is a leading clothing manufacturer with a mission to bring more people into sports, fitness, and health activities by delivering unique and effective workout clothing. We have almost a decade of experience to provide superior sportswear to the global market. Our 5,000m² factory houses several workshops and advanced equipment to support any volume of orders.

Men Tank Top
Source: Men Tank Top

A Wide Choice of High-Quality Cotton Fabric Materials

At UGA, we offer an extensive array of high-quality cotton fabrics, including short, long, and extra-long cotton fibers, as well as thin and thick cotton fabrics. Our durable fabric has various attractive properties, such as breathability, flexibility, stretchiness, and softness. We also supply trendy fabrics even during peak periods for your wholesale activewear order.

Customized Design and Manufacturing

UGA helps you to bring your activewear design ideas into reality. From concept to final production, our trained designers work with you to ensure your custom products satisfy your target market. We employ a devoted team that designs, develops, and manufactures your activewear with ease, allowing you to meet your project demand with minimal risk. 


Cotton is a very versatile fabric with many types. This fabric can be used to make various forms and styles of men’s and women’s activewear. While this guide does not cover all types of cotton, it highlights the most popular and available types.

UGA offers the best cotton fabrics at competitive prices and a flexible MOQ. Our services include the manufacture and supply of sportswear and workout clothing, tailor-made customization, and the production of private labels, among others. You can contact us to purchase premium-quality cotton fabrics for your activewear brand.

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