We all know that fashion trends come and go every year. Fashion Weeks around the world feature the latest innovations in clothing design. But did you know that new fabrics and their trends are also advancing?
There is so much more to fabric than you may think. Gone are the days of simply man-made and natural fabrics. Today, fabric technological advances are causing breakthroughs in trends and functionalities. With such exciting advances, fashion designers are taking the initiative to include these futuristic fabrics in their collections. Pushing the boundaries of fashion and making it so much more than simply looking good.
New fabrics leading the way in scientific advances
Fabrics are no longer just a key player in fashion. Just last year, The White House announced a new manufacturing innovation centre, the Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Institute for Manufacturing Innovation Hub. The aim being to secure US leadership in revolutionary fibres and textile manufacturing. A range of properties are being researched – from being lightweight and flame resistant, to extremely strong and containing electronic sensors.
These developments could lead to future textiles playing a pivotal role in the protection of frontline workers, such as those in the army or firefighters. Imagine a wounded soldier wearing a fabric containing sensors, which detect if they need to be treated with compression bandages. Or technology that can steer parachute fabric by changing the permeability.
Breakthrough smart fabrics
Earlier this year, denim leaders Levi’s partnered up with Google to create the Levi’s x Jacquard by Google jacket – an interactive denim jacket infused with revolutionary fabric technology. Once paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth, the jacket can perform basic key functions. The wearer simply needs to tap and swipe accordingly.
Also, NASA is getting in on the smart fabrics act. Their new space textile could be used for everything from insulation to cutting-edge astronaut suits. It also looks pretty amazing, like futuristic chainmail created using 4D printed metals.
Systems engineer at NASA, Raul Polit-Casillas said; “We call it ‘4D printing’ because we can print both the geometry and the function of these materials.” One side of the smart space material reflects light, the other absorbs it. This allows it to function as a thermal control for passive heat management.
In 2016, Stanford University student Po-Shun Hsu developed a plastic material, NanoPE, that helps radiate body heat, lowering body temperature and cooling the wearer. The team are now working on making this material into a woven textile, so it can be transformed into wearables.
What new fabrics are breaking through in the fashion world?
Smart fabrics are dominating the fashion, athleisure, and interiors world. These futuristic fabrics are embedded or woven with technological elements. This enhances not only the use of the fabric, but the wearer as well.
Also known as “wearable technology” smart fabrics start their life as the fabrics we know and love: woven, non-woven and knitted textiles. These fabrics are the foundation of everything we wear in everyday life. Smart technology already lives in our homes and even in our phones. We can control our heating and electricity from a simple app, so why not use this technology in our clothing?
So, what are these new fabrics and smart, wearable textiles? Simply put, they have been developed with cutting-edge technologies, provided to add value to the wearer. They have the ability and capacity to do many things that traditional fabrics cannot. This can include communication, transformation, energy conduction and even growth.
We can break these new fabrics down into two categories.
1. Performance Enhancing
These smart fabrics are making a huge impact on industries such as athletic, sporting and the military. Properties can include regulating body temperature (as we have seen above), controlling muscle vibration and reducing wind resistance. These properties can all help enhance physical performance. Other new smart fabrics help guard the human body from extreme hazards, such as radiation, space travel and heat. Even the medical world is getting in on the act. From new fabrics which can release drugs into the skin to materials infused with moisturisers, perfumes and serums, the possibilities are endless.
Aesthetic examples of smart textiles can include everything from colour-changing to luminous fabrics. They gather power from the sun, batteries, or the environment, harnessing vibrations and heat to react accordingly. We have seen dresses made from photo luminescent thread from designer Ying Gao, and designers using mobile phone LEDs to light up their garments on the runways. Using sensory technologies to make garments more interactive is just the start.
9 new fabric trends
Fabric trends can be scientific, revolutionary and breakthrough in terms of functionality. They can also be aesthetic; based on texture, colour, pattern, and fibre construction. These are the fabric trends that you will see everywhere from now on:
1. Stylish and sophisticated stripes
We’re not talking about basic sailor stripes or the classic Breton. These stripes have real life. They are bold and energetic and bring life and fun without being too overpowering or loud.
2. Get cultured
This trend merges traditional patterns and elements with handcrafted aesthetics. Colours are rich earth tones with the occasional pop of bright colour as a fun surprise.
3. Pretty in pink
Millenial pink is dominating both fashion and interiors at the moment. But it isn’t just this pretty blush pink that is ruling. Hot pink, a perhaps surprising choice for interiors, is making itself heard. When paired with neutrals and interesting textures, this trend is fun, stylish and grown up.
4. Textured silk
The classic Moire silk is brought back to life by using it in more obscure applications. Using it to upholster furniture, in a rippling skirt, or as a chic wall hanging will add interest and depth without going over the top.
Reflective and transparent surfaces are a futuristic textile trend, which blurs the line between soft fabrics and hard surfaces, creating a landscape of interest and intrigue.
6. Bauhaus prints
Those bold and blocky prints from the Bauhaus are perfect for creating a fresh and funky living space.
7. Mellow yellow
Perfect for summer and for warming your interiors in the winter. Using fabrics featuring different shades of yellow, in blocks or patterns will bring joy and character.
8. Exploring space
Fascination with the stars, planets and space sees this new trend growing in popularity. Jewel tones fused with muted greys are juxtaposed with futuristic structures and iridescent textures.
9. Back to nature
Reconnecting with our natural surroundings, this trend explores fabrics constructed with unusual and surprising natural materials. Fibrous textures combine with a neutral and mossy colour palette.
What new fabrics have you been enjoying? Whether they are used for fashion, interiors, medicine, technology or sportswear, futuristic fabrics show no sign of slowing down. Keep ahead of the trends and incorporate smart elements into your fabrics.