Fashionology: blending fashion and technology

An increasing number of clothing products are combining fashion and technology, part of a new trend called ‘fashionology’, using materials such as cooling fibers used in spacesuits, or those emitting far-infrared radiation.

T-shirts that use such new materials are becoming popular, especially for outdoor brands.

Cool 360, developed by K2, uses a perforation technique to make way for airflow on its mesh-fabric back. It also features a phase-change material used in spacesuits for an enhanced cooling effect. Phase-change materials absorb heat when temperatures rise, and emit heat when temperatures fall, help maintaining a consistent temperature.

“We applied heat to one mannequin wearing the phase-change material and another wearing normal clothing at 15-minute intervals,” said a K2 official. “We discovered that the temperature of the mannequin wearing the phase-change material was three to four degrees Celsius lower.”

Millet, another outdoor brand, also released a t-shirt that uses a cooling fiber, Cold Edge. When the wearer of the t-shirt starts sweating, the functional fiber embedded in the fabric expands and reacts with the sweat, ultimately creating a cooling effect.

Smart fabrics that ward off contamination and facilitate laundering are also making their entrance into the market.

Fashion brand Bean Pole recently presented new pants and shirts that are less susceptible to daily contamination. The company’s nanotechnology helps micro-particles to attach to the surface of the fibers, and create a coating around the threads. The coating, therefore, allows one to easily wipe off liquid and food, or even mud on a rainy day.

M Corset, an underwear company, presented Venex, a new product line that can even help to relieve stress. According to the company, the small amount of far-infrared radiation emitted from its products stimulates the nerve cells, which can reduce stress levels.

“The clothing industry has lately been focusing on ‘smart materials’ to target consumers,” said a K2 official. “With the approaching summer, there will be more intense competition between products that use cooling materials.”

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