Cotton Incorporated

The Technical Side of Fashion and Performance

Technology has come to fashion in a major way—whether in wearables, high-tech fabrics or the “Internet of Things” pieces that “talk” to the wearer.

Changes in fashion trends, retailing and sourcing are evolving at a break-neck pace. And unlikely sources are offering advice as to how the tech and fashion worlds can come together to benefit the consumer.

At the Fashion Tech Forum in October, 2016 in Brooklyn, Verizon’s Diego Scotti, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, explained how tech people have to work hard to remember to incorporate the emotional side of fashion into every product. He says fashion people can teach the analytically-minded about the more human aspect of fashion.

“We sometimes get so passionate about the technology that we forget what it can actually do for people,” he said. “So one of our missions is to ask, ‘How can we translate this world that’s super-technical into what people really care about?”

In spite of all the advancements in performance fabrics, the majority of consumers want natural fibers. Shoppers say they are bothered that brands and retailers would replace cotton with man-made fibers in tees (59 percent), underwear (59 percent), sheets (57 percent), jeans (53 percent), and dress shirts (51 percent), according to the Monitor™ data. ?

The industry is bringing together fashion and performance through a variety of technologies. Cotton Inc. gives designers the chance to offer high-tech fabrics for many categories of apparel, including, denim, outerwear, innerwear and shirts. Researchers at the organization developed STORM COTTON™ and STORM DENIM™, durable and highly water-repellent finishes that maintain moisture-repellent performance.

Cotton Inc. has developed moisture-management technology to address cotton’s propensity to absorb wetness. Its TransDRY® technology wicks and spreads moisture so garments dry in half the time of regular cotton. And its WICKING WINDOWS™ technology transfers moisture away from the skin, keeping wearers cooler and drier during various activities, particularly when they exercise.

Some designers and manufacturers are giving new meaning to the term “performance technology” by giving clothes the ability to generate their own power or serve as GPS-like devices.

Japanese designer Junya Watanabe is offering a coated-cotton trench coat outfitted with solar panels and a hidden power pack that can be used to charge mobile devices. Under Armour has purchased fitness apps like MapMyFitness and MyFitnessPal to create apparel and shoes that can seamlessly collect data such as calories burned, miles covered and heart rate. That data helps the wearer set and track fitness levels.

Under Armour’s product is still in the planning stage. But Levi’s unveiled its Project Jacquard Commuter Trucker Jacket at the recent Fashion Tech Forum. This washable cotton denim jacket, indistinguishable from the look of other Levi’s jackets, allows the wearer to connect his smartphone to a variety of apps, such as music or maps, from the jacket. A smart tag houses all the necessary electronics.

The Levi’s jacket may be high tech, but because it’s all cotton, it’s in keeping with a traditional consumer preference: nearly four out of five shoppers (79 percent) prefer their clothes to be made from cotton or cotton blends, according to the Monitor™ survey.

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