Understanding GSM in Fabric

Grams per square meter (GSM) is a standard metric used in the textile industry to measure the weight of fabric. It’s an important factor to consider when designing sportswear because it can affect the garment’s breathability, durability, and insulation.

In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of GSM in sportswear, the factors that affect GSM, how to choose the right GSM for your needs, and the benefits of working with a fabric expert.

How GSM Affects the Performance of Sportswear

GSM can have a diverse range of effects on the fabric’s properties, including:

1. Durability

A higher GSM fabric is generally more durable than a lower GSM fabric. This is because the higher GSM fabric has more material to resist wear and tear. For example, rugby jerseys typically have a higher GSM (around 220) than soccer jerseys (around 150) because they need to be more durable to withstand the rigors of the sport.

2. Breathability

A lower GSM fabric is generally more breathable than a higher GSM fabric. This is because the lower GSM fabric has more open space for air to circulate. For example, sports apparel designed for high-intensity activities, such as running and basketball, often uses lower GSM fabrics to help keep athletes cool and comfortable.

3. Moisture-wicking

Lower GSM fabrics are generally better at wicking moisture than higher GSM fabrics because they have more open space for moisture to evaporate. This is why many sports apparel brands use lower GSM fabrics for their products, as they help to keep athletes cool and comfortable during high-intensity activities.

4. Print quality

GSM can significantly influence the quality of printed designs, particularly for sublimation fabrics. The higher the GSM of the fabric, the better the ink will adhere to the fabric, resulting in a sharper and more vibrant image. However, it is important to note that too high of a GSM can also make it difficult for the ink to penetrate the fabric, resulting in a blurry or faded image.

5. Tactile feel

Tactile feel is not just about how a fabric feels on the skin, but also how it moves with the body. Lower GSM fabrics are often better at wicking moisture away from the body, which can help keep athletes cool and comfortable during physical activity. They can also be more comfortable to wear in hot weather because they allow more air to circulate.

It is important to consider all of these factors when choosing the right GSM for a specific garment. The desired properties of the garment, such as durability, breathability, and print quality, will all play a role in the decision.

Lighter vs. Heavier Fabric GSM

Lighter vs. Heavier Fabric GSM

Understanding the relationship between GSM and fabric performance enables teamwear and sportswear brands to choose fabrics that optimize athletes’ comfort, functionality, and overall performance.

Apparel TypeLighter GSMHeavier GSM
Running Shirt/Shorts100-120gsm160-180gsm
Examples of lighter and heavier GSM ranges for different apparel types

Pros of lighter GSM fabrics

  • Breathability: Lower GSM fabrics create lightweight garments that are ideal for sports prioritizing agility, flexibility, and breathability. They allow for increased freedom of movement and prevent athletes from feeling weighed down.

  • Moisture-wicking properties: Fabrics with lower GSM have moisture-wicking properties that efficiently draw sweat away from the body and promote quick evaporation, keeping athletes dry and comfortable during intense physical activities.

Pros of heavier GSM fabrics

  • Insulation and warmth: Higher GSM fabrics impact insulation properties and provide enhanced warmth and protection, making them suitable for sports played in colder climates or during winter seasons. It offers better heat retention and helps athletes stay comfortable in chilly conditions.

  • Durability and longevity: Fabrics with higher GSM exhibit greater durability and resistance to wear and tear, making them ideal for sports involving contact or rough play. They ensure that the garments withstand rigorous use and maintain their performance over time.
5 Tips for Choosing the Right GSM for Your Sportswear

5 Tips for Choosing the Right GSM for Your Sportswear

When choosing the right GSM for sportswear, consider these tips:

1. Assess the Sport’s Physical Demands

The physical intensity of the sport in question can guide your GSM choice. High-contact sports like rugby or football may require higher GSM for durability. In contrast, endurance sports like running or cycling may benefit from lower GSM fabrics for breathability and moisture-wicking.

2. Consider the Season

Is the garment meant for summer or winter use? For hot and humid conditions, a lighter GSM will offer better ventilation. For colder climates, a heavier GSM will provide the required insulation.

3. Consult with Fabric Experts or Manufacturers

Don’t hesitate to consult fabric suppliers or experts in the field. Their insights can help you understand how different GSM ranges behave over time and how they meet specific performance criteria. Engage in open discussions, sharing your sportswear requirements.

4. Conduct Wear Tests

Obtain samples from potential suppliers and subject them to thorough testing. Nothing beats real-world testing. Consider creating prototype garments with varying GSM levels and have athletes wear them during practice sessions. Gather feedback on aspects like comfort, durability, and performance to make a final decision.

5. Think About Sustainability

Eco-conscious brands may also want to consider the environmental impact of their fabric choices. Fabrics like REPREVE offer an eco-friendly yet high-performance alternative. Available in various GSM options, REPREVE allows you to balance both environmental impact and athletic needs, making it a win-win choice for conscious brands.

To gain a deeper understanding of the different fabric types and their GSM, take a look at our comprehensive fabric guide tailored for sports apparel.

Common GSMs By Sport & Apparel


120gsm, 140gsm, 160gsm100gsm, 120gsm, 140gsm120gsm, 140gsm, 160gsm, 220gsm160gsm, 180gsm, 200gsm, 220gsm160gsm, 180gsm, 200gsm, 220gsm


Button-Up JerseyNo-Button JerseyPants


SingletJerseyReversible SingletShorts
160gsm, 220gsm140gsm/160gsm100gsm160gsm, 160gsm/200gsm,220gsm


250gsm, 280gsm200gsm, 220gsm, 260gsm, 280gsm


120gsm,140gsm, 150gsm, 160gsm150gsm, 160gsm, 220gsm


SwimsuitRashies Vest
250gsm230gsm, 250gsm


120gsm, 140gsm, 160gsm160gsm

Winter Wear

Tracksuit Softshell JacketPuffer VestSub HoodieFleece Hoodie
130gsm, 180gsm,
220gsm, 250gsm
320gsm180gsm340gsm330gsm, 340gsm

Partner With Sphere Sport

GSM is an important factor to consider when designing sportswear. By choosing the right GSM, you can create garments that are comfortable, durable, and functional for the specific needs of your teamwear brand. At Sphere Sport, we are dedicated to delivering fabric quality and customization options that meet your needs.

If you are interested in learning more about what is GSM in fabric and how to choose the right one for your sportswear brand, you can email us at hello@sphere-sports.com. We have a team of experts who can help you with that.

Contact us today to learn more about B2B sportswear manufacturing services.

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