By Jessica Naziri, CNBC.com
Consumers are seeking out fashion that serves a function. From shoes that tone to fabrics that resist dirt and odors, more and more, clothes have to perform as beautifully as they look.
"When you look at the quest to get the consumer to buy, differentiating yourself from the competition is the goal," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for market research company NPD Group.
"Retailers are finding different ways and reasons to get consumers to buy again."
In the wake of the recession, consumers are wary. Although they are slowly starting to spend again, they are in an investment mindset, according to Cohen.
"They are looking for interesting products that could add real value to their everyday lives."
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UniqloUniqlo UV Cut, Wearable Sunscreen
Price: $13 to $25.
Japanese apparel manufacturer Uniqlo packs plenty of function into their cotton T-shirts, cardigans, hats and trousers. Pictured here, is an example of its UV Cut line , which is designed to serve as "wearable sunscreen."
Uniqlo worked with Toray Industries, a leading chemical materials manufacturer, since 2006 and the partnership has produced the UV Cut brand as well as two others, Heattech and Silky Dry.
Heattech is designed with fibers as well as natural amino acids from milk protein to ensure the product is soft and prevents warmth from escaping. The Silky Dry line is designed to eliminate odor while it neutralizes, breaks down and eliminates the causes of perspiration and body odor on clothing, not to mention it also keeps wearers cool in the hot, humid summer months.
ExOfficio, Bugsaway Bandana
Wearing a bandana on your neck is now themost fashionably functional way to keep bugs away. The odorless insect shield, Bugsaway Bandana, claims to reduce bites from potentially disease-carrying insects by 97 percent. It also has 30+ sun protection to keep away from harmful UV rays.
The insect shield repellant lasts for about seven washings. You can even wear it around your neck, in your hair, or even put it around your dog's collar.
Levi's511 Commuter Skinny Jeans
Levi's plans to sell in July the Commuter Series line , which includes a wide range of apparel, specifically designed to solve the problem commuting cyclists have. These items, from skinny jeans to trucker jackets, are durable combining a NanoSphere Technology to make fabric water resistant and dirt repellant. Other features include antimicrobial properties and reflective tape on the interior cuff of the jeans, offering a high level of visibility at the waistband.
Commuter series clothing can be found at select independent bike shops, Levi's Stores and Urban Outfitters.
LytessLytess Slimming Bike Shorts
A good jolt of caffeine can give your mood a lift, but what can it do for your clothing?
A lot, according to Lytess. Their caffeine-sewn pants promise to reduce fat on the hips and thighs, plus moisturize skin after three weeks' wear.
The product works on the principle of lymphatic drainage massage and the active ingredients are encapsulated with microcapsules, which are embedded in the fabric and released against contact with skin and the garment.
A spokesman for Lytess said that the leggings also help fight cellulite with diet and exercise.
"People are willing to try anything and some people like to have fun with experimenting… It is going to come down to the believability factor," said Cohen.
See the full list of Functional Fashions
By Jessica Naziri, CNBC.com