Industrial

The fashion of the future: what will tech bring next?

17th September 2020
Alex Lynn

Like many industries, the fashion of the future has become intrinsically linked with technology. From the textiles used in garment manufacturing to creating a sustainable supply chain, technological advancements are set to innovate fashion in countless ways. For a long time, the processes used in the fashion sector have remained remarkably unchanged. In the coming years, however, we can expect big things! Fashion brand Zalando investigate.

As of 2020, fashion generates an estimated $664bn revenue, making it one of the biggest industries in the world. Because of this, technological innovations within this sector are set to be nothing less than world-changing and, if implemented correctly, technology in fashion could make an unfathomable change in creating a greener, cleaner world.

From big data to Blockchain technology, let’s take a look at the innovations that we can expect to see in the world of fashion over the coming years and consider the monumental difference that they are going to make.

Novel fabrics

Over recent years, we’ve made some big steps towards more ethical fabric practices. However, new fabrics such as vegan leather are actually damaging to the environment due to their high plastic content. In answer to this, scientists have been developing new novel fabrics, such as lab-grown leather and sustainably produced ‘super-strong’ spider silk.

Tech giant, Google, is also getting involved in this new era of fabric creation. The Google ATAP (advanced technology and projects) lab is currently working on the creation of touch-responsive textiles that are made from conductive threads. These fabrics are being developed further, and there are even plans for colour-changing fabric development within the ATAP lab. These fabrics will be designed to change colour in relation to moods, settings, or temperatures.

3D printing

Speaking of colour-changing technology, those working in the exciting field of 3D printing are also currently working on the development of colour-changing fabric. Using ‘photochromic inks’ that changes colour when exposed to certain wavelengths of UV light, scientists are developing garments and jewellery pieces that have the ability to shift between hues. The first success in this field was the creation of a ring that can be programmed into numerous customisable colours. 

As well as colourful innovations like this one, 3D printing is working to innovate the textile industry in many other ways. From accessories to women’s trainers, the possible 3D printing creations seem to be limitless!

3D printing has been used in the realms of runway fashion for a while now. Think back to 2010, when Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen made a statement with her ‘Crystallisation’ top, a geometric garment which was 3D printed from white polyamide. Over the next few years, 3D printing will no longer be confined to the catwalk but implemented on a much larger scale as part of the standard fashion supply chain.

Blockchain

Associated most with the record-keeping of bitcoin technology, blockchain tech is set to revolutionise the way the fashion is shipped, traced, and recorded. Each ‘Block’ within the blockchain is made up of specific pieces of data that store unique digital information about a transaction. This information includes the date and time of the transaction, as well as the monetary value of the purchase.

In the world of fashion, blockchain technology is an up and coming way in which brands are improving their supply chains. Every movement of a product on a supply chain will be recorded on the blockchain, creating a physical-digital link between each product and their digital identities. This unique link means that fakes will be obvious and therefore counterfeiting can be easily detected. Any attempt to divert goods can also be easily tracked in a blockchain system.

Artificial intelligence

From customer service to inventory tracking, Artificial Intelligence is already becoming a powerful tool that brands can use to predict trends and get ahead of the game. Virtual wardrobes and automated wardrobe planning tools allow users to get creative with their shopping - improving the user experience while also giving brands access to unique, instant, customer data.

AI is also set to personalise the world of fashion down to the finest detail. Some brands are already utilising online ’fit engines’ that help users find the perfect style and fit for them. Say goodbye to the ‘one size fits all’ approach - thanks to AI, the world of fashion is about to get more personal than ever before.

From sustainability to the empowerment of individuals, technology is destined to revolutionise the textiles industry on every scale. With increased productivity and ultimate user understanding, the world of fashion will be re-modelled over the coming years and, thanks to technology, the end result will be more efficient, greener, and uniquely suited to every shopper out there.

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