Although consumer awareness of smart fabric garments available in today’s market remains low, interest in the area could provide an opportunity for education that may drive future sales.
According to market research by The NPD Group, less than half of consumers are aware of most smart fabrics, even those that have been available for several years. Some smart fabrics, like those offering cooling and heat modifying effects, generate more interest than awareness.
“Smart fabrics are an important and innovative development for the fashion industry, but consumers don’t know enough about them to fully embrace them,” Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry analyst, said. “The industry needs to educate the consumer, emphasizing the technology and performance behind smart fabrics, and touting the benefits for real-life use.”
With a few exceptions, awareness of smart fabrics is stronger among women and older age groups. Despite stronger awareness among women, slightly more men have purchased apparel made from smart fabric. The only exception is stretch fabrics, with more than double the amount of women purchasing this type of apparel.
Consumers said they had the most interest in smart fabrics used in workout clothing or activewear, driven by largely by consumers age 18-34. Jeans and underwear followed, driven by consumers age 45 and older. An interest in cotton materials offering smart fabric benefits was common among all ages.