Smart Clothes Revolution Not Expected Soon

Popular fashion icons such as Lady Gaga and Katy Perry have already shown the world what smart clothes or e-textiles can look like, clothes that can change color, adjust the temperature or measure bio-metric data. But even though smart clothes have been around for a while relatively few people are wearing them. Recent research from D. Romme at the Amsterdam University of Applied sciences sheds light on the phenomenon.

In her graduation paper ‘E-Textiles in everyday clothes’ Romme has investigated the current state of smart clothes and why they are not being implemented by the fashion industry.

“In the current market clothes lose their value due to overproduction and overconsumption. This is because clothes are cheap and clothes are thrown away quickly. By integrating e-textiles in the daily fashion industry a new type of value can be added to clothes,” Romme concludes in her paper for the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences’ Amsterdam Fashion Institute.

In order to discover why smart clothes are not commonplace a survey was conducted among 100 female respondents between 25 and 55 years of age. One of the questions that was asked concerned what respondents believed is important when it comes to smart clothes. The survey suggests that smart clothes technology needs to be invisible to the observer, easy to clean, aesthetic and easy to repair. Aside that, it would be important for any smart t-shirt or pair of trousers to add a meaningful function.

Romme concludes that there is no example to date that meets any of the expectations that consumers have of a smart piece of clothes or e-textile. “The integration of e-textiles will hold off for a while. E-textiles can be integrated as soon as they meet the desires and close the gap between the fashion sector and the technology sector.”

It is expected that a synergy between giants in the world of fashion and technology could break the infant e-textile market open. Research from Gartner thereby points out that in 2015 roughly ten million pieces of smart clothes were sold, while it is expected that all of 2016 has seen 25 million pieces sold. This would suggest a market growth of 150 percent.