NASA has revealed that the London-based company Fifty One Apparel is using its technology to help women stay comfortable during menopause through a range of temperature-regulating clothing.
Named after the average age when women begin to experience menopause, the company’s clothing maintains the temperature-regulating properties using the Outlast technology once funded by NASA but retains the look and feel of high-end fabrics.
“I did some initial research to find out what was on the market, and there was absolutely nothing apart from nightwear,” Nicholson said in a statement.
While exploring high-tech fabrics for regulating temperatures, Fifty One’s owner Louise Nicholson found that these products tended to be cooling fabrics, which ignored the cold flashes that often follow hot flashes during menopause, said the US-based space agency.
Her search soon brought her to a technology called Outlast.
In the 1980s, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston was looking for ways to improve the insulation in spacesuit gloves. The center entered into a Small Business Innovation Research contract with the Triangle Research and Development Corporation to explore the use of phase-change materials, which maintain a steady temperature as they change phase from solid to liquid or vice-versa.
Triangle was able to demonstrate the effectiveness of a temperature-stabilizing fabric insert for a spacesuit glove. While the technology never went into space, Gateway Technologies (now called Outlast Technologies) acquired exclusive patent rights from Triangle and soon began marketing it under the name Outlast.
Outlast has been used in numerous products, but Nicholson noticed that there were not any brands using this technology specifically for menopause.
The initial products, a line of shirts in four styles, were first sold to consumers in London, and later the company expanded to e-commerce, selling tops, bottoms, and nightwear globally. It is further expanding its range of Outlast-based products, including accessories like scarves, facemasks, and turbans.
As of 2021, the US was Fifty One’s second-largest market after the UK.