The problem with most athletic wear is that no matter how well it works, no matter how comfortable it is and no matter how much one loves a piece, eventually it will start to stink. Badly. Washing can hold off the issue for a time, but over time, most pieces always seem to have an underlayer of unpleasant odor, no matter how clean they are. Plus, Accel Lifestyle Founder Megan Eddings noted, overwashing can wear down the clothes until they ultimately get ragged and are thrown out.
But while most people expect that their athletic wear will have to be replaced fairly often, Eddings is a trained chemist who is unwilling to resign herself to waste and unpleasant smells.
“I was tired of throwing away my husband’s stinky workout clothes. It was driving me nuts. You can wash that kind of dry-fit, polyester-type material, but the moment he started sweating in it again, the shirt became – I coined this term – ‘activated,’” Eddings noted in an interview.
Eddings’ first move was to look for a better option, a search that rather quickly deadened. She found products that were advertised as smell-resistant, but they all had other issues. The odor-proof effect was created by soaking the clothing in heavy industrial chemicals or by using overseas labor practices that Eddings considered unethical.
“I founded Accel Lifestyle because, even though there are so many fitness apparel companies today, none of them hit all the boxes on my checklist. I wanted to support a fashionable fitness apparel company that has an ethical supply chain with no sweatshops, and a fabric that doesn’t smell. What did I find? Absolutely nothing. And I wanted to change that,” she said.
What made Eddings somewhat unique in the realm of unsatisfied customers was that she had the scientific training to back up her ambition – as a lab-trained chemist, she entered the process of reinventing athletic wear with a good deal of faith that science could unlock the right solution.
Three years and a lot of experimentation later, Prema™ fabric – the proprietary material out of which all of Accel Lifestyle’s pieces are made – was born. The material is currently patent-pending in 120 countries worldwide. Much of the technical part of Prema fabric, and how exactly it keeps gym clothing from becoming an effective repository for stink, is a closely guarded secret. Accel does reveal that the fabric is a proprietary blend of silver-poly fibers woven with Supima (a type of high-quality cotton). The use of silver, a known antimicrobial, is not entirely new in athletic clothing design. But, according to Eddings, Accel is using the material in a different, proprietary way.
“Silver has been used for years as an antimicrobial, but not all fabric that uses silver is the same. The silver science we use actually inhibits the growth of the smell-causing bacteria, focusing on gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria,” she explained. “All ingredients are EPA-registered and formulated with no harsh chemicals or solvents, which means it is gentle on your skin and on the environment.”
The firm also noted that Prema is a sustainably produced fabric that makes minimal use of microplastics and comes packaged in sustainable paper instead of wasteful plastics. Accel LIfestyle products are also made 100 percent in the U.S., avoiding Eddington’s earlier sweatshop labor concerns.
So, is the world ready for stink-free gym clothes? One would almost have to assume the answer is yes, as it is hard to imagine consumers wanting their gym clothes to smell terrible. But athletic wear is a big and competitive field, and Accel Lifestyle is new to the game – the brand launched in August after its long product development cycle – which means it now to work at standing out in the crowd. And its high-tech products aren’t cheap: A workout tank top from Accel will run around $65, while Athleta’s price might be closer to $40 and Walmart’s would likely be under $20.
But, as Eddings pointed out, buying cheap goods is rarely a good way to save money, because they don’t last and are frequently thrown out and replaced. The 85 pounds of textiles that the average American throws out each year are evidence of that.
A product that lasts, feels good to wear and doesn’t hang onto an eye-watering stench may cost more upfront – but Eddington is betting that most people would prefer to invest in them, since they will spend less overall and will smell a lot better.