High-tech clothing offerings proliferate
As half of Trendsetters in the U.S. (53%) and the UK (49%) consider a brand innovative if it creates new materials, the fashion industry is taking note. Now, brands and institutions alike are developing innovative fibers and textiles that do much, much more than merely act as the baseline for garment construction. With the market for e-textiles forecasted to generate more than $2 billion in sales annually by 2029, the following companies are shaping this nascent space.
Back in May, female-led smart textile startup LOOMIA launched the LOOMIA H1, a heated electronic jacket that is less a retailable, one-off piece of clothing than a prototype that LOOMIA is utilizing to scale the use of e-textiles for the fashion industry. The wool jacket itself retails for $550, was designed for women (who, research shows, tend to be colder in offices and outdoors compared to men), and contains an LEL, the brand’s patented LOOMIA Electronic Layer. This LEL, which the brand spent three years researching and developing, is an e-textile circuit board that contains heating, lighting, touch-sensing, and data-transmitting capabilities, and imbues these features into whatever item of clothing the LEL is used in.
To offer a first line of defense against gas leaks, researchers at Tufts University developed Smart Thread, a thread that changes color when exposed to different poisonous gasses. Not only does this novel fabrication method alert the wearer to threats such as carbon monoxide, but the thread’s color also changes in intensity and depth due to the different ways the dye reacts based on the type and concentration of the gas in question. Wearers can read Smart Thread visually but have the option to more precisely read the fibers with the use of a smartphone. Via this offering, Smart Thread is setting the industry standard for reusable, washable, and affordable gas-detection methods.
Last summer, heritage Americana brand Tommy Hilfiger debuted Tommy Jeans Xplore, a line of smart clothing that incentivized the customer to wear the pieces. The clothes, which were embedded with Bluetooth smart tag technology, were casual in design and included men’s and women’s tees, hoodies, jeans, outerwear, and accessories. Each Xplore item paired with the brand’s iOS app so that consumers could earn points for wearing the pieces, compete in challenges on the app, and complete various other activities that were meant to reinforce the Tommy Hilfiger brand DNA. Once accumulated, the points could be cashed in for gift cards, autographed merch, and archival pieces.