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Technological Advancements in Wearables to Boost Smart and Interactive Textiles Adoption

technical textiles textile

Technological Advancements in Wearables to Boost Smart and Interactive Textiles Adoption

Textiles have been a vital part of human life for a long time; however, they have undergone various transformations over the past couple of decades. Initially, the functions of textiles were limited to their aesthetic aspects in clothing and protecting the body from the external environment. Backed by continuous technological advancements and R&D efforts, a new avenue of the textile industry has emerged recently, i.e., smart and interactive textiles. 

Wearable technologies are making a significant impact on people’s way of living thanks to the advancements in mobile communication, the Internet of things (IoT), big data, and artificial intelligence. Smart Fabrics and Interactive Textiles (SFITs) can be referred to as the amalgamation of artificial muscles with textiles that offer active actuation for desired force and motion, along with high conformity and adaptive ease. These fabrics seem to have enormous potential and are used across a plethora of applications ranging from military protection, cloth consumption, medical healthcare, and entertainment and sports. 

The proliferation of wearable technologies has further boosted the smart and interactive textiles market size in recent years. People in developed economies have become more educated and health-conscious and have started taking both, mental as well as physical well-being seriously. This, in consequence, has increased their expenditure on clinically viable wearable devices. Several countries have been working on the prospects of integrating these technologies across communities, hospitals, individuals, and families. This would help mitigate the concerns of limited medical resources and demand for adequate health monitoring, propelling product sales.

According to Global Market Insights Inc., the Smart and Interactive Textiles Market is anticipated to cross USD 16 billion by 2030.

There has been an increased cognizance of safety and comfort in personal vehicles. Premium and luxury automobile owners in every part of the world have been investing heavily in car aesthetics to add more functionality and visual appeal to their vehicles. Also, they are more inclined toward elevating the overall driving experience, which, in turn, will augment the demand for smart and interactive textiles.

Geriatric population growth to amplify smart and interactive textiles market size

There has been a noticeable increase in the life expectancy of people and the world is witnessing a consistent expansion of the geriatric population base. Estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that the share of people aged 60 years or above will record a two-fold growth between 2015 and 2050, reaching 22% in 2050 from 12% in 2015. The high susceptibility and accelerated health concerns of elderly individuals are slated to encourage equipment manufacturers and tech giants to introduce solutions and health devices with cutting-edge functionalities, thereby positively impacting the smart and interactive textiles industry outlook.

To that end, in July 2022, engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed smart textiles capable of detecting and recognizing body movements. The apparels fit tightly and have a network of pressure sensors, which in association with machine learning techniques, can recognize and learn to detect the wearer’s movements. The textile is made using thermoforming fibers and has the potential to deliver positive outcomes in physical rehabilitation by integration in smart shoes or socks. The smart wearable can help track pressure on the feet and reduce the possibility of ulcers in diabetic patients. R&D efforts have played a critical role in increasing the penetration of interactive textiles through the healthcare sector and will continue to augment the wearables market size over the coming years.

Textiles ecosystem to see a boom in revenues from smart & wearable instruments

The integration of advanced technologies across the garment and textile industry has paved way for designing and developing linen-based unconventional and out-of-the-box products. Besides, scientists have been actively studying the possibilities of utilizing e-textile technology in everything ranging from music to sports to healthcare to fashion to automobiles. In addition, favorable regulatory frameworks across several economies, coupled with increasing R&D investments, will foster the adoption of smart and interactive textiles in the ensuing years. 

Recently, MIT Media Labs has designed pioneering musical knitwear known as KnittedKeyboard II. The keyboard is a textile-based musical device knitted using smart fibers and sensors featuring a common piano key layout. This fabric-based piano is soft, expressive, lightweight, and stretchable at the same time. These attributes make it aesthetically unique and transportable and hence, are stimulating its adoption. There are other companies as well which have invested in wearable musicals and are set to disrupt the interactive textiles market with sustainable and cost-effective solutions. 

Wearable health monitoring solutions to gain traction in the coming years

The onset of several health calamities, especially the COVID-19 pandemic, created turbulence across the healthcare sector. The burden of chronic diseases and other health complications requiring active health monitoring reached its apex in 2020. As a result, huge research and commercialization endeavors started across the globe to create wearable biosensors which can gather bio signals in the human body for assessing fitness and diagnosing diseases.  

The accelerated business growth is attributed to the development of personalized, fashionable, low-cost wearable devices with integrated communication features. In addition, with rapid industrialization and the increasing emphasis on green safety and performance optimization, the smart and integrated textiles market is set to witness unprecedented growth in the forthcoming years.

polyester

Novel Polyester Fiber Technologies to Play a Key Role in Ushering the Textiles Industry Towards Sustainability

Plant-based polyester fibers are quickly emerging as one of the hottest trends in the textiles space.

From a historical standpoint, textiles have undergone various stages of evolution, from being a small-scale domestic industry to its current supremacy in the global economy. Textiles have transformed dramatically from their first stage, dubbed the ‘cottage stage’, which included the production of natural fibers such as flax, wool, and cotton on a domestic basis, to more innovative operations in the Industrial revolution.

As technologies such as looms, wheels, and spinning processes emerged throughout history, textile production began to shift focus from conventional natural fabrics to synthetic or “man-made” fibers, most notable among them being polyester fibers.

Polyester is among the most common synthetic fibers used worldwide. The early origins of the polyester fiber market can be traced back to 1941 when the first viable version of the material was developed by British chemists J.T. Dickson, and J. R. Whinfield, and named Terylene. However, the material was popularized in the 1950s, by DuPont, under their brand Dacron, which went on to become the most predominantly used fiber across the industrial sector, surpassing even cotton.

Polyester fabric has many beneficial characteristics, including high strength, resistance to stretching, shrinkage, creasing, insects, as well as most chemicals. Specific properties, however, can vary based on the type of polyester fiber, including crush, oil, or flame resistance.

Used primarily for home furnishings and clothing, polyester fibers have gained massive popularity over the years, being used either alone or blended with other fabrics such as cotton, wool, flax, or rayon.

New polyester fabric innovations revolutionizing the apparel sector

Polyester is particularly popular for the production of apparel and clothing. The material, either by itself or in blends, can be found in nearly every type of apparel, from regular loungewear and daily wear to specialized sports apparel. Common polyester fibers blends include polyester-cotton blends for shirts and polyester-wool blends for suits, among others.

Polyester manufacturing technology has undergone significant transitions over the years, with novel solutions making differentiation between synthetic and natural fibers considerably challenging. One of the primary stages of this transition was the emergence of microfibers, facilitated by technology advancements that enabled the extrusion of the material in fine multifilament yarns. This, in turn, enhanced the aesthetics as well as the performance of both the fiber and the fabric.

This transformation further aided in the integration of high-tech polyester fibers in the production of high-performance active sportswear. Also, polyester microfibers came to be considered ideal for creating fabric with characteristics similar to silk.

Another notable transformation in the polyester fibers manufacturing domain was the evolution of the recycling process. Recycled polyester, or rPET fibers, developed using PET or clear plastic water bottles as the raw material, have given apparel manufacturers an innovative and more sustainable source of material, that would otherwise go into landfills. For instance, recycled polyester is used extensively in the production of textiles like fleece, preferred by outdoor clothing brands concerned with their ecological footprint.

According to studies, the apparel industry is aiming towards doubling the use of these polyester fibers by 2030, particularly fabrics derived from the emerging fiber-to-fiber technology, that leverages green chemistry to facilitate the breakdown of used polyester and reform it without sustaining any loss in quality. This concept of “infinite recyclability’ offered by the use of rPET fibers has attracted the attention of many notable apparel brands looking to bolster their growth strategy in a more sustainable way.

Marks & Spencer, Patagonia, alongside myriad other fashion businesses have gained prominence in recent years for their use of recycled polyester in their products. likewise, Japanese company Teijin made considerable progress in this regard, by setting up its own polyester recycling system to recreate the fabrics for use in clothing.

The emergence of plant-based polyester fibers as a key sustainability step in the textiles domain

The textile industry has faced considerable scrutiny over the years, owing to its large carbon footprint. The use of synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, has faced significant backlash due to their adverse impact on environmental health. Studies suggest that polyesters, especially, account for almost 80% of chemically produced fibers across the globe.

As ethical concerns continue to push apparel and fashion companies away from petroleum-based fiber solutions, major industry players are taking targeted steps to adopt more sustainable textile materials in their offerings. For instance, H&M has made a commitment to switch to sustainable materials completely by 2030. Similarly, Fast Retailing, operator of casualwear Uniqlo, has initiated the use of biofibers in its products. Furthermore, in 2020, the company also revealed its participation in the UN’s Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, designed to bring about a 30% decrease in GHG emissions from the apparel sector by 2030.

Polyester fiber production has historically involved the use of ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid, both of which are derived from petroleum. In an effort to avert the potentially hazardous effects of these materials, various technologies are cropping up, to examine more eco-friendly methods of deriving the raw materials. For instance, extraction of ethylene glycol from sugarcane has been gaining considerable traction in recent years, paving the way for the production of more sustainable, plant-based polyester fibers.

Companies across the globe, such as Japanese materials company Toray Industries have already taken cognizance of this technology, leveraging it to initiate a breakthrough designed to mitigate carbon emissions and reliance on petroleum sources. The company, in collaboration with U.S-based biofuels company Virent, has used the process to develop what is hailed as the first 100% plant-based polyester fiber in the world. The production of this novel material is facilitated by the creation of a biologically derived terephthalic acid version, constituting nearly 70% polyester content, using inedible parts of corn and sugarcane.

The eco-friendly, plant-based polyester fiber demonstrates durability and processing ease similar to that of conventional polyesters and is geared towards use in automotive interiors, sportswear, and many other applications. As similar efforts by numerous polyester fiber industry vendors gain momentum, the textiles market is likely to undergo a major transformation in the years ahead.

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Saloni Walimbe is a Content Writer for Global Market Insights, Inc. 

trade shows

The Future of Trade Shows in a Post-COVID-19 Fashion Industry

The fashion sector woke up recently to yet another trade show cancellation – the newly launched footwear show Sole, due to take place in August after its February success, announced that the decision had been taken to cancel for now, with 2021 dates to be announced soon. And today, Hyve Fashion has announced that their upcoming events Pure, Pure Origin, Scoop and Jacket Required will also be cancelled until next year. They’re just another in a long line of cancelled shows this Summer, including Premium Berlin, Modefabriek, Tranoï and Scoop International to name but a few.

There are some, perhaps more optimistic platforms, which have simply postponed their dates to later in the year, but there is a real sense in the industry that things might not go back to the way they were before. There is a universal feeling of uncertainty – lockdown restrictions are being eased, but with mixed messages from governments throughout the world, the idea of visiting exhibition centres packed with thousands of people from all corners of the globe is less than appealing for many.

TradeGala works with thousands of small boutique owners and, of those that we surveyed, 66% responded that they had no plans to attend a trade show for the rest of 2020. But if the very foundation of the industry is under threat, what will fashion buying and selling look like in a post-COVID-19 world?

In the short term, some of the major players are experimenting with technology and virtual reality to continue reaching their target audience. Shanghai Fashion Week was first to take the step into the unknown, holding their first fully digital event in April, while London’s famous Fashion Week followed suit with a virtual showcase in June.

Experimentation was the order of the day, with everything from live-streamed, green-screen catwalk shows to 3D virtual reality design galleries. Despite some detractors who found the new format somewhat lacking, and a few technological glitches throughout, both events were considered a success, and Paris is planning to host their first virtual events in July. Independent trade shows are also dipping into the digital world with Modefabriek launching an online B2B marketplace in July to showcase the collections from their cancelled event, while collaborations are emerging with Coterie, Magic and Project to launch “digital tradeshows” in August and September.

But won’t things all just go back to normal eventually? If we’re honest, do we really want to go back to the way things were before? Perhaps it’s about time we embrace the ways that technology can enhance our analogue experience. Why should brands and buyers be obliged to travel internationally (investing stretched budgets and increasing the fashion industry’s already heavy burden on our carbon footprint) when we have the option to reach out and connect via the web? London Fashion Week is already planning their next event in September as a virtual/real-life hybrid (lockdown restrictions permitting) and looks to continue this trend indefinitely – perhaps this is the future of trade shows as we know them?

At the end of the day, we’re tactile creatures, and there’s nothing quite like being able to see and feel a satin dress or leather handbag when considering our next season’s stock. But as bulk forward-ordering is no longer the only option (and a risk many buyers no longer wish to take), retailers will still have the option to attend one or two shows a year to source new brands or trends while supplementing their stock more regularly with suppliers online. This is where TradeGala can make a difference.

A year-round “virtual tradeshow,” TradeGala showcases brands throughout the world offering short-order stock for instant purchase. A user-friendly platform, it allows buyers to respond quickly to the changing trends and offer their customers what they really want to buy, rather than speculating months in advance.

One day soon, we hope, we will be able to attend our favorite trade shows as we did before – sourcing, networking, finding inspiration. Our Trade Show Calendar is regularly updated with upcoming shows throughout the world (both virtual and physical) and you can subscribe for the latest updates, so you won’t miss a date! But the future has come more quickly than we expected – is your fashion business ready to embrace the digital revolution?

Second Annual Apparel Textile Sourcing Miami Boasts Record Numbers

This year’s Apparel Textile Sourcing Miami kicked off on Tuesday, drawing in more than 1,200 visitors for opening day and setting record attendance for the fashion-focused trade show.

This year’s ATSM combined the elements of economic development and the latest in trade policies while educating attendees on strategies for fashion brands, retailers, and manufacturers in the unpredictable trade environment.

More than 3,500 visitors were projected for day two of the event, which featured 200 international apparel and textile exhibits. Day two’s features included the event’s Fashion Day which consisted of both established and new names in the fashion industry specific to the South Florida region.

The feature fashion show took the spotlight on day two, featuring the latest looks in knits from Renee Ruiz, Julian Chang, Luis Aponte and Viviana Gabeiras; sportswear by Lucky in Love and Peace, Love, World; swimwear by Bianca Coletti; menswear by Cubavera; evening wear by Mayda Cisneros; and bridal designs by Maria D’Ocon.

A special “Invest in Florida” panel showcased incentives and business growth opportunities in the region, inviting a multitude of companies to consider Florida for establishing and expanding operations. Keynote speakers included Michael Finney, President of the Miami‐Dade Beacon Council, Alice E. Ancona, Director, International Strategy & Policy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and Matthew R. Rocco, President of the South Florida Manufacturers Association.

The three-day international event took place at the Mana Wynwood Convention Center and proved to be another huge success for domestic and international textile and economic development players. The education offered at the event ultimately helps companies identify predictive trends impacting the textile supply chain through 30+ seminars showcasing industry trends, trade strategies, and the latest and greatest in the fashion sector.

Source: Apparel Textile Sourcing Miami

Apparel Textile Sourcing Miami Unveils Top Speaker Line-Up

Amidst Changing Global Trade Landscape, Apparel Textile Sourcing Miami Show Unveils Top Speaker Line-Up to Boost International Trade Success for Fashion Industry Players in Florida, Southern U.S. and Latin America.

The show gets underway May 28-30 at the Mana Wynwood Conference Center, coinciding with Miami Fashion Week to bring to the Magic City more than 10,000 fashion industry representatives for a first-hand discovery of new developments and insights in the apparel and textile market — from concept to consumer.

“With the U.S. in the midst of a shifting trade environment, ATSM has put together the most comprehensive sourcing seminars, expert panels and Q&A segments to arm representatives across all segments of the industry — brands, retailers, e-commerce sellers, designers, importers and buying offices — with the knowledge, tools and practical solutions they need to address current industry issues and navigate through the rapidly-transforming sourcing ecosystem,” said Jason Prescott, CEO of JP Communications, producer of the show and publisher of North America’s leading of B2B trade platforms TopTenWholesale.com and Manufacturer.com.

Highlights of the ATSM educational sessions — which take place on the show floor alongside 300 exhibits of the latest in apparel and textile products and services from more than 15 countries — include:

U.S. Trade Policy Update

U.S. trade policy is changing quickly and Julie Hughes, President of the DC-based United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) — which works to facilitate global trade for U.S.-based brands, retailers, importers and wholesalers doing business internationally — will provide an update on the latest developments in global trade, tariff and non-tariff barriers, and new sourcing opportunities.

Imports, Exports and Customs: All You Need to Know for 2019 and Beyond

Navigating through the complex supply chain and other complicated issues associated with trade present a challenge for businesses, small and large. Learn from international trade and legal expert Laura Siegel Rabinowitz, Special Counsel of national law firm Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, about all you need to know to ensure compliance with current trade laws and policies surrounding imports, exports and customs, and reduce duty exposure.

New Investment Opportunities

Tap into an unprecedented number of investment opportunities available to Florida apparel brands, retailers and businesses — from local to international sources. Speakers include Manuel A. Mencia, Sr. Vice President – International Trade and Development of Enterprise Florida, as well as representatives from The Investment Association of China (IAC), who will provide details as part of the first Asia-US-Latin America Investment Summit on the group’s vision to invest in local opportunities in Miami and Fort Lauderdale in the areas of logistics, ports, commercial/residential real estate, infrastructure and technology. IAC, the authority of the Chinese investment industry, regulated by the National Development and Reform Commission of the Peoples’ Republic of China, has injected billions of dollars into different economies worldwide across numerous industries since the inception of China’s One Belt, One Road global trade initiative.

What’s Next in Fashion Color Trends

Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute, will unveil global color authority Pantone Color Institute’s fashion color trend forecast for Autumn/Winter 2020-2021. Be among the first to see how next year’s colors and beyond will be reflective of color as an oasis and how they will be incorporated into fashion.

Stream for Designers on Growing a Successful Business

Launching and growing a successful business today is a challenge for both expert and novice designers alike, especially with limited budgets. What’s the best way to launch or scale a brand — online, direct to consumer, crowd sourcing sites or wholesale? Mercedes R. Gonzalez, Founder and Director of Manhattan-based Global Purchasing Companies, specialists in fashion strategy and brand development, will reveal valuable tips on everything designers needs to know about breaking through the clutter and launching a successful collection. Design industry expert Anna Livermore, Founder of Chicago-based V. Mora, who has helped launch hundreds of designers’ careers over the last decade, will share top mistakes designers make and how to avoid them.

Latest Developments in Manufacturing Technology

With technology evolving at a rapid pace, discover the many advances in technology use and how it can speed up product development and the manufacturing process, including pattern design, creating technical packs, 3D scanning, grading, marking and cutting. Learn from experts such as Ram Sareen Head Coach and Founder of California-based fashion tech firm Tukatech on how technology can help your company save time and money in meeting manufacturing demands, and Shahrooz Kohan, CEO of California-based fashion ERP software provider AIMS360 on the benefits of integrating apparel value chain technologies into your business.

Sustainable Fashion: How to Adapt Your Business to Conform 

In the wake of the United Nations’ launch of the “UN Alliance on Sustainable Fashion,” a panel of top industry experts will discuss the implications for apparel businesses, and provide guidance on how companies can launch, convert and grow their sustainable operations.

Responsible Sourcing and Your Bottom Line

Avedis Seferian, President and CEO of Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), will examine why responsible sourcing is more important than ever in today’s world of instant communication, what companies need to do in order to ensure business continuity and stay competitive, and how responsible sourcing impacts the bottom line.

Presented free of charge, the interactive educational sessions are expected to draw more than 4,000 local, national and international visitors who will attend ATSM to learn, source new innovations, and make connections with sourcing partners globally.

In addition to the show’s exhibits and conference sessions, ATSM will deliver a world-class fashion show, representing local and international designers, up-and-coming student talent and global fashions presented by show exhibitors.

For more show details and a complete conference schedule, please visit www.appareltextilesourcing.com.