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Elastane vs. Spandex: Are They All That Different?

Last Updated: November 15, 2021

Not quite sure of the difference between elastane vs. spandex? Well, it may not be as significant as you think. Elastane and spandex are virtually the same fabric, but we will be sharing more details about both terms and why people tend to think the two are different. 

Elastane vs. Spandex

As we just mentioned, elastane and spandex are essentially the same

Spandex, an anagram of the word ‘expands,’ is more commonly referred to in North America, while elastane is often quoted in garment makeup in Europe. 

The two names are used interchangeably, the only real difference lies within the quality of the fabric based on the production company. Lycra is another name you may find this fabric listed as. 

What is Spandex and Elastane?

Both spandex and elastane are terms used to describe the extremely stretchy fabric often found in athletic apparel such as leggings, swimwear, and compression garments. 

This fabric was first created by the company DuPont (they also created polyester and nylon). They patented it under the name “Lycra,” so you will often see spandex and elastane listed under this name as well.  

The fabric gained popularity from its inception in the 1950’s due to an increased desire for women’s underwear and hosiery. 

Elastane/spandex replaced rubber that was used to create stretch in women’s garments at the time, and from there it grew into one of the most commonly used fabrics in the industry.

This material is also used in smaller quantities in skinny jeans and socks. It’s such a popular fabric because it pairs very well with many other materials such as cotton, wool, and polyester. 

Spandex helps bring stretch, comfortability, and the ability to bounce back to fabrics that would otherwise be stiff on their own. 

Bottom Line

Overall, spandex, elastane, and Lycra are all the same material. While you may find that the material quality differs based on the company who creates it, they all have the same properties (this material is super stretchy and easily bounces back). 

Source: Lululemon