While fashion and technology continue to blur the lines, a group of intelligent materials could drastically change consumers’ wardrobes in upcoming years.
According to Dassault Systèmes managing director Samson Khaou, self-repairing fabrics could be the future of fashion. Khaou, who leads the French-based 3-D design and product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions company, said these intelligent materials will go beyond clothes to be used in various consumer products.
“The world will shift from smartphones to smart materials,” Khaou told Fibre2Fashion in an interview. “Self-repairing fabrics will fix small tears in themselves and they will be used in many products – not just clothes – from mobile phone screens to nail varnish and shoes.”
Self-repairing fabrics, unlike other materials, can fix small holes or tears on their own—without the assistance of a machine or a worker. Although self-repairing textiles have been under the radar for a while, many apparel companies, including Imperial Motion, have dabbled in this smart apparel concept and created their own self-repairing fabric garments.
The Tacoma-based e-tailer recently debuted Nano Cure Tech, a specially treated rip-stop fabric with self-repairing capabilities. If the fabric tears, the wearer can rub two fingers over the hole in a back-and-forth motion for about 10 seconds. The motion will enable the puncture to be sealed without the use of a sewing needle or other device.
Nano Cure Tech, which features accessories and outerwear, also includes two jacket styles: the NCT Welder Coaches Jacket and the NCT Vulcan Coaches Jacket. Each jacket features the NCT self-healing technology, in addition to a lightweight and water-resistant nylon shell. The black jackets are both available from sizes Small to XX-Large and retail from $74.95 to $79.95.
Imperial Motion’s self-healing clothing also follows another major smart textile development. In July, a Penn State research project developed self-healing textiles that could repel harmful chemicals. The project featured a special coating that contained a urea-breaking enzyme, which would simulate enzymes that aligned with target chemicals. These self-repairing fabrics would contain a polyelectrolyte layer-by-layer coating, which would heal punctures and protect workers, including farmers, from organophosphate pesticides and other dangerous chemicals.
As fashion becomes more advanced, self-repairing textiles could provide consumers with security that goes beyond style. Although consumers can’t always control their outside environment, self-healing textiles could protect them from things like chemical leaks and the occasional trip to the tailor.