Smart clothing is gaining momentum worldwide and more players entering the market has meant an increasing variety of this high-tech product.
According to a Tractica report, smart clothing shipments are expected to grow from 1.7 million units in 2016 to 26.9 million unites by 2022, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 58.6%. Smart clothing revenue will also increase from $150.7 million in 2016 to $3.7 billion by 2022. Combined with the body sensor segment, both markets are expected to generate $19 billion in annual revenue by the end of 2017.
The popularity of preventative care and connected athletic garments are expected to drive this market, which could be a boon for retailers and their consumer engagement initiatives. While consumers seek different ways to improve their health and track vital signs, companies will have to rethink how smart garments are designed to advance their technology capabilities. The push for more comfortable and functional smart garments is expected to heighten, as consumers continue to hone in on wellness and look for apparel that accommodates their daily physical activities.
“The market for smart clothing and body sensors is still in the beginning stages, but moving in a positive direction, albeit at a slow pace over the next year or two,” said research analyst Sherril Hanson. “The body sensor market is expected to be larger in the long run due to a wider variety of device types and use cases.”
Smart clothing market drivers
Following the pilot of smart garments, consumers are seeking tech-infused apparel that does more than the standard fitness tracker. To keep up with this demand, companies are experimenting with data to help smart garments, including connected sports bras and pants, improve athletic form for the wearer, aid them in avoiding injuries during exercise, and help them predict fatigue patterns and monitor physiological data.
Over the next few years, smart garments will become less bulky with wires and look more like standard clothing. In addition to having an attractive design, these smart garments will also provide more capabilities—like evaluating vital signs or sending alerts to a smartphone. To support the new look of garments, industry groups are also being formed to collectively innovate new design processes and functional capabilities for smart garments.
A shift in preventative care will also fuel the smart clothing market. As more consumers become focused on their health, the demand for useful smart garments will rise. Consumers want smart garments that will notify them about their health, including improving posture and monitoring glucose levels. U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) data said almost 300 trials in the U.S. are working with wearables. Industry players, like Lumo Bodytech and Sensoria, are pioneering the new era of smart garments with their innovative design concepts and ability to create tech that easily incorporates into everyday apparel items.
[Read more on wearable technology: Smart Apparel to Drive Wearables Market Growth by 2021]
Smart clothing market barriers
Attracting the mass consumer market has been the biggest roadblock for smart clothing companies. Unlike an athlete who may use a connected sports garment to track performance, the average consumer may not find this technology easy to use or relatable to their lifestyle.
To remedy this issue, the report suggests that smart garment companies could explain data in simpler language for consumers’ fitness needs or the smart garment market will likely remain a niche segment.
Despite hurdles, smart clothing companies are working on getting their product right, making sure consumers feel comfortable wearing it and simplifying wearable technology. Over the next five years, the study predicts that the market will keep working on providing more meaningful smart apparel offering, which will drive the growth in the sector.