The future of the textile industry holds a lot of exciting possibilities. We dared to ask what the fabrics of the future would be like, and here’s what we found out.
Tencel is Lenzing’s trade name for the generic fiber lyocell. Lyocell is a man-made fiber created from wood pulp. The fiber has already been used to make athletic wear, bedding, and denims. It is marketed as a cotton alternative, but is “more airy” and feels like silk.
Research is currently ongoing to create multi-tasking plants:they would both bear fruit as well as produce lace samples from their roots.
“The future control of cell development implies that we could design plants to perform specific functions for us,” says Carole Collet, founder of the Textile Futures course at Central Saint Martins. “The control of DNA lets us control the living like we would write software.”
A company called BioCouture is exploring ways to make fabrics from “sustainable materials.” They’re making fabrics from microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and algae.
Qmilch, which is the name of the fabric made from sour milk, was developed by German microbiologist-turned-fashion designer Anke Domaske. It’s the primary material in Domaske’s apparel collection, Mademoiselle Chi Chi.
Qmilch has many benefits. It has a silk-like texture. It can also regulate body tempurature and blood circulation. It is environmentally friendly and saves resources. And best of all, it only takes about an hour to produce.
Scientists at the University of Guelph in Canada say slime from a the prehistoric hagfish could be potentially used in fashion. The slime, which is the hagfish’s self-defense mechanism, has a Lycra-like quality when dried.
Researchers claim the hagfish fiber would be suitable to athletic wear or even bulletproof clothing. It would be a great alternative to Lycra, but scientists are still looking for ways to efficiently mass produce it since hagfish can’t be farmed.
Who would have thought discarded fishing nets, voile, and old carpets could make this colorful retro swimwear collection. The swimsuits are made from Econyl, 100% recycled hallow polyamide. This new generation fabric was developed by Diana Auria Harris, a London College of Fashion student.
How would you like to wear clothes that change before your very eyes. That’s basically what this “metamorphosing fabric” is.
Rachel Clowes, a London College of Fashion and the Environment student, calls her organic bio-plastic sequins as the “fashion of the future.” These sequins dissolve after two to three wears, leaving natural dyes to appear in their place. These sequins though are not yet commercially viable and are currently very expensive to purchase.
ITVOF is short for infrared-transparent visible-opaque fabric. This is the high-tech fabric developed by Jonathan Tong, a PhD student at MIT.
Unlike most fabrics that either allows heat transfer or insulation, ITVOF works by “wicking off heat in hot climates and trapping heat when it’s cold.” It would be the best fabric for summertime clothes, but it’s still under development.
Hydrophobic textiles, aka stain-proof fabrics, allow spilled liquids like coffee and tea to roll right off of it. The ones from Dropel Fabrics is made of premium cotton, which is treated midway through its production. It’s like your everyday wear, but better.
Electronic fabrics is a new field that allows designers to embeds circuits within textiles. An example of this is Barbara Layne’s jacket (above). It can broadcast text on its own or communicate with another jacket.
Clothing in the future could become your personal protector. The Spike Jacket by Nancy Tilbury makes use of sensors that start flashing when someone comes too close. The “No Contact Jacket” (above), meanwhile, delivers a powerful shock to a would-be attacker. This one was created by MIT researcher Adam Whitton and fashion designer Yolita Nugent.
These days, almost everything can be done and/or controlled by your smartphone, even your clothes. CuteCircuit, a fashion company based in London, creates interactive fashion that can be controlled by your smartphone. Their clients include Katy Perry and other rich and famous personalities.
The idea behind interactive fabrics is it will allow consumers to download new styles instead of buy new clothes. This is made possible by embedding nanotechnology into fabrics, making them conductive or even computational.
Whether or not these fabrics become mainstream would depend on how fast research and development move along. This may take several years, but clearly the fashion industry is being shaped by science and propelled by the drive to use more eco-friendly and sustainable materials.