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Report: Consumers Need to Be Schooled About Smart Fabrics

The interest in smart fabric technology is shared by male and female consumers across multiple generations, but the NPD Group reported that brands could benefit by doing more to educate consumers about their innovations.

In a recent study, the NPD Group found that less than half of consumers are aware of most smart fabrics, including fabrications that have been in the marketplace for several years like cooling fabrics and heat-modifying fabrics. Stain resistant and waterproof smart fabrics ranked the highest in both consumer awareness and interest.

The NPD Group reported women and the older demographic tend to be more aware of smart fabrics, however slightly more men have made purchases in the category. The only exception, the NPD Group noted, is stretch materials, with more than double the number of women purchasing apparel with the technology.

“Smart fabrics are an important and innovative development for the fashion industry, but consumers don’t know enough about them to fully embrace them,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for The NPD Group. “The industry needs to educate the consumer, emphasizing the technology and performance behind smart fabrics, and touting the benefits for real-life use.”

The majority of consumers age 18-34 surveyed for the study said they would most benefit by activewear with smart fabric. Consumers age 45 and older also ranked activewear first, followed by jeans and underwear.