Materials innovations are key to driving textile and apparel industry growth despite fragmented supply chains and economic headwinds, according to Lux Research. Low cost tolerance and fast product cycles make materials innovation a challenge, but both brands and consumers are demanding change and creating new opportunities for innovation. In the new report, “Emerging Materials Opportunities for the Apparel Industry,” Lux highlights four key megatrends that are driving this shift: the need for sustainability, functionality and differentiation, minimizing supply chain risks, and the trend toward personalization.
“While these four megatrends are driving long-term industry change, companies need solutions right now to address policy changes and consumer demands,” says Michael Holman, Ph.D., Vice President, Research at Lux Research. Key textile innovations include advancements in fibers, sustainable processing techniques including water-free dyeing of fabrics, functional improvements including smart textiles and special material coatings, and end-of-life recycling options for polyester and cellulosic materials. “Functional coatings and finishes provide near-term opportunities within the next one to two years, whereas fiber innovations, water-free dyeing, and smart textiles should be viewed as long-term opportunities,” Holman states.
Functional coatings are well-suited to performance apparel, as well as sports, outdoor, and automotive textiles. “Drop-in additives that provide performance enhancement and differentiation are already market-ready, and chemical companies can benefit from providing less harmful and bio-based products that meet brand and consumer demand,” Holman explains.
End-of-life recycling opportunities for polyester and cellulosic materials both pose midterm opportunities for growth. While polyester recycling is close to scale, improved supply chain logistics and better-quality feedstock are needed to achieve a scalable solution. Chemical companies can benefit from this by providing polyester feedstock diversification. Cellulosic recycling of cotton-based materials is being driven by government regulation and corporate consortia, providing companies an opportunity to develop post-consumer recycling options that capitalize on future feedstock opportunities, especially in the EU, which is leading in textile waste separation infrastructure.
“While fiber innovations are still a few years away, chemical companies can benefit by partnering with startups to help scale and validate novel fiber technologies,” notes Holman. “Developing environmentally friendly alternative materials can help brands differentiate themselves through the ongoing sustainability trend.”
For more information, you can download the executive summary of the report here.
About Lux Research
Lux Research is a leading provider of tech-enabled research and advisory services, helping clients drive growth through technology innovation. A pioneer in the research industry, Lux uniquely combines technical expertise and business insights with a proprietary intelligence platform, using advanced analytics and data science to surface true leading indicators. With quality data derived from primary research, fact-based analysis, and opinions that challenge traditional thinking, Lux empowers clients to make more informed decisions today to ensure future success.