The Future Of Fashion? Clothing To Get Smart As Tech Targets New Uses

Written by Martin Kovacs     02/06/2016 | 12:36 | Category: INDUSTRY

Smart clothing is set to branch out beyond the fitness market, embracing a range of new uses, according to ABI Research.

The Future Of Fashion? Clothing To Get Smart As Tech Targets New UsesABI forecasts that the smart clothing market will top 18 million clothing articles annually by 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 48 per cent.

Extending beyond fitness, ABI expects the market to target a wide range of personal, health and enterprise uses.

"Smart clothing today targets mostly sports professionals," Ryan Harbison, ABI research analyst, commented. "However, the forward-looking brands are pursuing worker and public servant safety, interactive gaming, children's health monitoring and the elder care markets.

"New market segments not only expand the addressable market, but also serve to prove that the technology can perform in a broader and more austere set of environmental conditions and applications."

ABI notes that players driving adoption include Athos, Heddoko, Hexoskin, Mimo, Mondevices, OMsignal, Owlet, Sensoria and Textronics, with Ralph Lauren, Google and Levi's also involved in the market.

Google and Levi Strauss recently unveiled the Levi's Commuter Trucker jacket, a smart connected jacket which allows users to wirelessly access their smartphone, expected to be available next year.

ABI expects it will only be a matter of time before more larger tech players enter this space.

"The biggest challenge for this segment is ruggedising the technology that makes the clothing smart," Harbison commented.

"But, as is the case in all IoT markets, partnerships will be even more critical to create durable, practical and fashionable products that consumers want and are willing to pay a premium price.

"Partnerships will need to include wearables OEMs, who will compete with, but also can complement, smart clothing."