Did you know that Smart Textiles is predicted to be worth $130 billion by 2025? It is a prediction made by technology consultancy Cientifica in a report entitled “Smart Textiles and Wearables: Markets, Applications and Technologies”. The report stated that the rapid adoption of smart textile technologies in the apparel and fashion industries could make wearables from Apple and Samsung obsolete.
So, what are intelligent textiles?
With so many different advancements taking place in the smart textiles space, smart textiles are currently defined as textiles that have the ability and capacity to do many things that traditional fabrics cannot like communicate, transform, conduct energy and even grow.
One example of a company that is producing textiles for today’s fashion industry is PYRATEX. They have designed a fabric embedded with invisible technology and with active components that heal, soothe and care for your body.
Three Generations of Smart Fabric
The evolution of smart textiles can be seen through three generations. The first is the Passive generation. This is when the garment holds a sensor in place like the VITALI bra, which has fabric sensors that support wellbeing through breathing posture and HRV.
There second generation is Active. This is when the clothing has the sensor embedded, like STOLL’s heated balaclava which uses smart textiles to heat cold air to help reduce chest infections in athletes.
Lastly, there is Ultra, when the entire garment acts as a sensor. A great example of this is MIT MEDIA LAB’s Second Skin Fabric which incorporates living bacteria with synthetic fabric.
Smart fabrics is a growing space that has the power to improve the performance and functionality of textiles while also offering enhancement of human capabilities. These advancements will not only open up a massive creative space for fashion designers, but have an impact that extends past the fashion industry.
The Breakthrough and the Innovators Redefining the Textile Industry
In the last few years, the smart textiles have been moving at a faster rate than expected. We have seen innovations that have introduced 4D printed material, interactive yarn and hydrophobic textiles. Personally, I have been wowed with mycelium, a fungi that is strong, flexible, and durable and the lab grown leathers that have been entirely grown without animal derivatives manufacturing.
Top industry leaders are managing to translate the power of smart fabrics in a way that makes it easier for the fashion industry to imagine adopting this new wave of materials. The changes are coming from people like Lauren Bowker who is fusing science with creativity. Suzanne Lee who has brought biofabrication to the forefront of fashion. Suuchi Inc’s very own Suuchi Ramesh has innovated apparel manufacturing through her proprietary technology, the Suuchi Grid. Marina Toeters, whose sustainable solutions have had many brands rethinking their sustainability in fashion and Maddy Maxey who is championing intelligent textiles as the way forward. Showing promise and a determination to change fashion’s ecosystems, when approaching the smart textiles always remember that the possibilities are endless.
Written by Muchaneta Kapfunde