The fashion industry is ever-changing, and with new technology, options for womenswear and menswear have become limitless. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), it’s estimated that retail sales will increase between 10.5% and 13.5% in 2021, amounting to $4.44 trillion.
It’s also estimated that the menswear sector will grow by $153.87 billion. As men’s fashion evolves and more technologies emerge, fashion development will change and contribute to this growth.
It’s interesting to keep track of all the new technologies to enhance existing fashion lines, from wearable technology to remote-monitoring sensors. Customers expect more than just style from their clothing, and retailers must adapt to these changing expectations.
Below are some prime examples of technologies being leveraged to improve upon existing apparel in menswear and influence a gentleman’s purchasing decisions.
1. Stretch Fabrics
Developments in science and technology allowed the creation of Spanx and elastane, commonly known as Lycra. Being able to move around freely is practical and necessary for men interested in fitness or comfort.
There are so many types of stretch fabrics that have hit the market. The initial ones, known as elastomeric, were created in 1958 and used for bras and swimsuits. Now, men can find the same stretch fabrics in slacks and dress shirts.
Many men value the feeling of comfort in their clothing but want to avoid compromising style for it. Thankfully, stretch fabrics reward men with both style and comfort, allowing them to move freely and look good while doing so.
2. Color-Changing Fabrics
A remarkable feature entering the apparel industry is color-changing fabric. At some point, you may be able to control the color of your clothing with the help of a mobile application.
At the University of Central Florida (UCF), researchers are developing a color-changing fabric called ChroMorphous. The material is battery-powered and can be controlled with an app so you can change your look seamlessly, depending on the setting or mood you’re in.
The fabric has threads with microwires and color-changing pigments. While the current material has a bit of a weird feel to it, researchers at UCF are working on making the microwires even smaller to improve the texture of the fabric. It currently feels like a tote bag, but it could become more like regular clothing fabric as the tech develops.
3. Internet of Things (IoT) Apparel
If you’re not familiar with IoT, essentially, it is applying software to physical objects so they can communicate with one another. IoT technology is developing at a rapid pace and is set to transform the fashion industry.
One company, Eon Group, is currently developing garments integrated with IoT tech. The goal is to create clothing with its own operating system, similar to what you would find on an iPhone or Android.
Some of the goals of this tech are to:
- Increase supply chain efficiency
- Reduce chances of out-of-stock items
- Enhance marketing performance
4. Try-Before-You-Buy Augmented Reality (AR)
The post-pandemic era will likely bring in new technologies, and AR is no exception. It’s now possible to experiment with different clothing to see what it looks like on your body before purchasing anything.
If you’re looking to create a minimalist wardrobe, also known as a capsule wardrobe, you’ll be able to experiment with AR to check out the new look.
It’s a perfect way to make educated purchasing decisions and research product specifications. It will be interesting to see how the magic of AR helps to potentially increase customer satisfaction and retention in the future.
5. 3D Printing
Compared to traditional textile manufacturing, 3D printing may offer other benefits for clothing retailers. 3D knitwear is becoming increasingly popular, and more companies are experimenting with this tech to achieve greater levels of sustainability.
3D-printed garments are made using the same techniques as traditional 3D printing. Both are produced using CAD software on a computer. Once designs are finished, digital codes are sent to the printer, and manufacturing begins.
The main difference between 3D-printed clothing and standard 3D objects lies in the machine — think of it as a souped-up knitting machine. While 3D-printed clothing is not yet commonplace in the fashion industry, it will likely become more prevalent in the future.
6. Self-Cleaning Clothing
One company has researched new ways to cut down on your laundry, as its clothing uses products that require less cleaning. HercLéon launched Kribi, the first pair of self-cleaning underwear that can be worn for weeks at a time without a wash.
Sometimes, taking care of clothing requires checking the care tag, but the process can be made easier with self-cleaning garments.
While it may seem gross at first, HercLéon avoids petroleum-based materials in its garments and has created what it calls “HercFiber.” It’s a combination of natural materials such as beechwood, eucalyptus, and bamboo. The result is underwear that remains cleaner, more absorbent, breathable, and thermodynamic.
Moving Fashion Forward With New Tech
This list only contains a handful of examples of the new technology coming to the fashion industry. Whether it’s a pair of self-cleaning underwear or fabrics that stretch, tech developments will continue to expand the industry’s reach and meet new customer expectations.
Retailers around the globe are always trying to find innovative ways to deliver top-tier products to their customers to meet their bottom line. It’s more important than ever for companies to implement new technologies to maintain a competitive edge and deliver value.