Fashion gets anti-viral makeover! How coronavirus pandemic changed apparel industry!

November 29, 2020 2:00 AM

From anti-viral clothing to sanitisation closets, tech is proving to be at the heart of the fashion industry’s emergence in the post-Covid era

For brands like H&M and Zara, speed and quantity have always been a priority.

By Shriya Roy

Fashion and technology have long known each other, but today, their equation has gone a step ahead, with some game-changing innovations. The fashion-tech industry has been innovating and re-innovating at a lightening pace and bringing out new products to keep consumers happy and safe during the pandemic. For one, apparel and fashion brands are giving greater importance to hygiene and immunity. So categories like stain- and odour-resistant daily wear are now in huge demand in the market. Furthermore, anti-viral textile technologies are fast becoming a trend and could soon become a good revenue stream for brands.

Apparel brand Turmswear, for instance, has started producing odour-resistant daily wear that need not be washed regularly. Its apparel products are anti-viral, anti-germ, anti-odour and easy-dry. The brand uses nanotechnology and fabric innovation combined with the latest fashion trends. Turmswear also recently launched its Turms masks that are nanotech-enabled.

One of the first textile technologies, however, that has proved to be effective against Covid-19 is HeiQ Viroblock. The UK-based industrial threadmaker Coats is, in fact, looking at ways to incorporate this technology into its threads and yarns that could be used to make affordable anti-viral clothing.

Sweden’s Polygiene, a specialist in odour control, is also working on its own anti-viral treatment for denims in partnership with Italian fashion giant Diesel. According to the two companies, the solution stops 99% of viral activity of any kind within two hours of contact.

Furthermore, in Brazil, Santista Textil is developing an anti-viral textile treatment focusing on protecting workwear and denim from the virus. Spanish denim treatment specialist Jeanologia has also come up with a sanitisation box that eliminates coronavirus from footwear, apparel and other textiles. California-based biotechnology company Püre, on the other hand, is attracting sellers and retailers with its sanitising closet PüreCouture, which uses UV light to destroy pathogens while leaving retail tags intact.

While technology is at the heart of the apparel and textile industry’s emergence in the post-Covid era, it is not a new trend. Over the past couple of years, luxury fashion brands have joined hands with various AI systems to produce better products and accessories. For example, one of the latest trends for fashion stylists is to design ‘smart’ accessories like watches and bracelets. These smart objects are equipped with sensors and can work as contact-tracing tools as well.

Millions of businesses today are trying to use data to understand customers’ preferences better. By making use of AI, designers are not only able to create clothing specific to the individual, but can also predict their future taste. AI-designed clothing makes fashion and designing much more personalised and customised.

For brands like H&M and Zara, speed and quantity have always been a priority. With the pandemic being a hindrance for people to go to outlets and malls to buy, 3D printing clothes at home has been emerging as an alternative. Trial rooms, too, have an alternative in the form of AR and VR technology. These two additions to retail outlets are transforming the way consumers shop. Buyers can not only look at 3D representations of the clothing, but can also use AR to digitally try on clothes without the hassle of changing rooms.

From connected accessories like smartwatches to jackets that come with USB ports, the adoption and integration of technology has made deep inroads in the fashion industry. The CHBL Jammer Coat, for example, designed by Austrian architecture company Coop Himmelb(L)au, is made from metallised fabrics that block radio waves and make the wearer untraceable via modern devices.

Then there is London-based designer Dahea Sun who invented a dress that acts as a pH indicator when acid rain falls onto the fabric. Taking this technology a step further, the dress also comes with a smartphone app that allows the wearer to scan and upload the colour changes to a database that further updates the rest of the world with real-time environmental data about the rain.

It’s true that technology is affecting every stage of fashion development and the consumer is the one who is reaping all the rewards. The pandemic has made the dependence on tech much more prominent and one can be sure that there will be more exciting innovations in the future.

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