The use of CBD in clothing is the latest big talking point to hit the industry, with one New York company infusing the product in a range of luxury activewear for women, in what is hailed as the first fashion range of its kind in the world.

Acadaba has devised a means of combining its clothing fabric with up to 25 grams of 99.9% pure CBD, using micro encapsulation technology to layer capsules into the fibre, which then break open during exercise, releasing CBD onto the skin and which is then absorbed into the endocannabinoid system. 

The company claims its range, which includes sports bras and leggings, is about “prerecovery” – a preventative measure against workout-induced muscle pain and soreness.

Through CBD being released while exercise is taking place, they say, the recovery has already begun.

Such is the initial popularity of the concept – although, if social media is can be regarded as any measure, it appears to be questioned as much as welcomed by experts and users alike – the manufacturer of the fabric itself, Devan Chemicals, is looking to launch a range of bed sheets and pillows in the near future.

According to Seth Barum, CEO and co-founder of Acabada, who has worked in the textile industry for over three decades, his business is a revolution for the fashion and fitness industries alike.

Being based in New York, one of the fashion capitals of the world, he realised the apparent need to bring together the focus on fashion with the changing perceptions of CBD and growing awareness of its positive health properties.

Through enabling an active ingredient in recovery to start working during the workout itself, he believes the potential for this emerging industry is huge.  

Explaining how they created the CBD infusion of clothing, Barum says: “If you look at a knit under a microscope you’re going to see thousands of fibres, and the microcapsules bond to these fibres, they’re at all different levels within the fabric.

“These different levels hold the microcapsules and as you’re moving you’re actually breaking the ones that are the highest, or on the surface,” adding that each product should give out CBD for up to 40 wears and washes.

As clients approach this milestone, they can choose to recycle their CBD-infused clothing sustainably through the upcycling program of Acabada, where recycled synthetic fabrics will be replenished.

However, despite the undeniable inventiveness of such a range, experts remain on the sceptical side.

Darria Gillespie, a US-based doctor, believes the lack of regulation and understanding about exactly how it is working is an issue.

“When we do things where we release medications into your bloodstream, we know exactly how much someone is going to absorb over a given time point. With activewear, there’s absolutely no way to regulate how much someone will get,” she says.

“There’s no way to know if you’re getting too much or too little, or what else is in the product.”

Dr Ziva Cooper, of the UCLA Health Cannabis Research Initiative, also has doubt over the effectiveness of such a concept, pointing to the lack of clear evidence. 

”Given that we don’t even know if topical CBD can permeate the skin and have meaningful effects on the body, we definitely don’t know if CBD in clothing would have that effect,” she wrote in a blog.

“What we do have evidence of are from people’s reports that when they use topical cannabidiol they have alleviation of certain symptoms, especially related to pain and muscle soreness. We also have evidence in animal models that CBD might help decrease inflammation, but that is very different from the indications for which people might be using this athletic wear.”

However, Acabada remains adamant that its products work, and certainly there is anecdotal evidence from many women online who claim its leggings have helped them power through their barre classes in ways they previously couldn’t – while their claims seem to have little evidential base yet, the business remains adamant it has founded a new ‘movement’ in fashion and health.

“We are about passionate, empowered women who are taking recovery and wellbeing into their own hands,” proclaims its website.  

“We’re cultivating a community who are committed to living their best lives. Adding a daily dose of CBD to your wellness regime may help support your body function at its best, preparing you for whatever life throws at you.”