The global smart fabrics market is projected to reach $5.5bn by 2022, according to a recent report by Transparency Market Research, with the sector set to undergo a segmentation based on products, applications and functions. In terms of application, fashion is one of the key industries where smart fabrics could be incorporated and help lead the growth of the market.
While players in the industry might feel like the conversation around getting the convergence of fashion and technology right has been going on for ages (and it really has!) without much change, we have actually come a long way since the dawn of fashion tech circa 2004. The smart creatives have realised that fashion tech pieces are not merely a light up dress (although there’s nothing wrong with a bit of sparkle). Similarly, engineers have understood the importance of how products look and feel, making design a fundamental part of the product creation process instead of an after thought. Lastly, and arguably the most exciting part, is that some fashion tech pieces have made their way to the consumer market, as opposed to staying confined to the real of performance art, reserved for celebrities and the runway only.
With that in mind, we decided to round up some the most stylish and functional products on the market.
London-based brand Emel+Aris has created the world’s first luxury smart coat by using revolutionary heat technology. The coat, which is available for both men and women, lets the wearer control the temperature with three heat settings, which can be activated at the touch of a button. The battery, discretely hidden in an easily accessible pocket, has three heat settings that control power usage. On the lowest setting, the battery can heat the coat for 8-10 hours; on the highest heat setting it lasts about three hours, with the exact time determined by the outside temperature. The battery comes with a cable with a USB connector, which doubles up as mobile phone charger.
“How is it that in this time and age, with all the technology we have at our disposal, the weather can still affect the way we look and what we're free to do? How is it that heated coats are not a "thing”,” told us Rana Nakhal, founder of Emel+Aris. “I grew up in Canada and my husband comes from Norway. Both countries are filled with gorgeous stylish people, all reduced to looking like snowmen for half the year. I then thought of London (currently my home city), New York, Paris and all the other beautiful cities where you really do experience three seasons in a day… A stylish coat with heat that I could adjust to my liking seemed like a no brainier: trans-seasonal, perfect for travelling, Emel+Aris was born: 25 cities, one coat; 3 seasons, one coat.”
Emel+Aris’ luxury trenches and wraps are in the £1,100-1,500 range, with a bespoke option at £3,000. It’s not too early to start thinking about your Christmas list...
We’ve been championing Nadi X ever since Billie Whitehouse and her team announced it back in 2016. The smart yoga pants, which launched to the public earlier in this year, use vibration feedback to guide the wearer towards the perfect yoga pose. A pair of Nadi X will set you back $179 and while this might feel a bit pricey, it’s reasonable when you compare it to the cost of hiring a yoga instructor (which could be between $150 and $200 per hour).
Levis Commuter Trucker Jacket
The first product using Google’s Jaquard technology which lets wearers access navigation information, change music, block and answer calls with simple swipe or tap on their sleeve. While the collaboration between Google and Levis was highly anticipated, reviews suggest the product doesn’t live up to the expectations. So even though we wouldn’t part with $350 for this piece just yet, we can’t wait to see how the partnership between the tech giant and the clothing company will continue.
The team behind Thesis Couture has been working on revolutionising the high heel since 2013. The Olympus One heel is a four inch, 100mm high heel that feel and function like wedges thanks to the Thesis LIFT technology. In a traditional 4 inch, 100mm high heel, the average person will have 80%+ of their body weight on their forefoot and toes. The Thesis technology reduces that to <60% for the average person, and the center of gravity is closer to a natural state. The result is shoes that feel better, wear longer, and distract less. The first batch of these have already gone but you can sign up to Thesis Couture’s newsletter list and be the first one to know when they are available to order.
In the meantime, the company has unveiled the NYLA bag – a premium cosmetics case for jet-set women that protects make up from breakage. You can support the project on Indiegogo (and bag yourself some goodies) right now!
Michael Kors Access Range
In May, fashion favourite Michael Kors announced its Runway 2020 plan, a multi-part revitalisation strategy aiming to rebuild the brand and reconnect with customers. One of the main key promises for the brand is focus on wearable technology. While the company stopped producing its fitness trackers, it introduced two new models to its Access smartwatch collection just in time for the festive season. In addition to tracking and notification features, the Sofie smartwatch, priced at $458, integrates Google Assistant voice technology and My Social app, which allows wearers to use photos from their Facebook and Instagram accounts as custom watch faces.
From new and exciting startups to legacy brands, businesses of all sizes are innovating in the fashion and technology space in ways that don’t compromise style for function and vice versa. To learn about more innovations in the space, we invite you to join IET’s upcoming event: TechStyle – World of Wearables. Taking place on 22 November 2017, the evening will bring on stage Marija Butkovic, founder of Women of Wearables, and Francesca Rosella, co-founder of CuteCircuit, to discuss some of the latest developments in the industry. Learn more and register here.
This post is created in collaboration with The Institution of Engineering and Technology
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