Wearables have very limited reach
The fashion industry is at the cusp of dramatic change. As technology is set to emerge as a differentiating factor in the days to come, how is the Smart fabrics and wearables market expected to shape up? Fibre2Fashion spoke to some techexperts.
Innovation within the fabric sector continues and wearables development is taking place globally but has been driven mostly by the needs of first responders, the medical industry, and heavy industry/manufacturing. The fashion part of wearables has been limited and not necessarily scalable.
I’m not a big fan of wearables. Indeed, those types of solutions have always been technology push rather than demand pull. I don’t see much happening in this area in the near future. Considering smart fabrics where technology is rather “behind” the garment, they might have higher chance of success.
Consumers that shop for luxury fashion are very often already using high-end technology in nearly all other aspects of their lives, so this is not such a leap for luxury brands but also a way to engage wider audiences to stay relevant and reach new customers.
Adoption of any new technology is a slow burn unless prompted by an unforeseen business challenge. Innovators who account for just 2.5 per cent of the target customers will always be willing to try something new. But the larger, and therefore more profitable set of consumers, are value-driven. Hence, the success of any innovation depends on the trade-oﬀ between price and benefit.
I’ve always been interested in, and excited by, potential applications of smart fabrics and wearables. Prior to SupplyCompass I worked in consumer research and innovation within sportswear, researching and testing the appeal of customisation, personalisation and wearables with consumers. What we noticed back then is that smart fabrics and wearables really only appealed to a very specific consumer of technical sportswear. The covid-19 pandemic has accelerated trends, particularly in the digital space, so it will be interesting to see how wearables and smart fabrics grow in popularity and application. Hopefully with investment and further innovation, they can become more aﬀordable. For us right now, it’s not a focus as we work primarily with fashion brands in the mid to premium segment, with the majority of fabrics sourced in organic cotton, rPET, linen and leather. An application for us that will be exciting is when we can look to smart fabrics to add traceability and visibility across the value chain. In terms of the shift towards demand driven, this change is already happening. We are seeing brands exploring smaller collections, testing with digital renders of products, and experimenting with new business models such as MTO [made to order].
Published on: 20/06/2020
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.