The apparel industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by durability, convenience, and sustainability, and growing importance of technologies such as novel fabrics and polymer-blended fibres. In the last three years alone, there have been over 32,000 patents filed and granted in the apparel industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Advanced materials in Apparel: Abrasion-resistant polymer blended fabrics.

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 13,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the apparel industry, there are 20+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Abrasion-resistant polymer blended fabrics is a key innovation area in advanced materials

Abrasion-resistant fabrics resist surface wear and tear owing to rubbing, thus improving a fabric’s life. Companies that offer products that are dependent on reliable wearability and safety seek apparel that retain their composition during extensive wear. Abrasion-resistant fabrics are manufactured with different patterns and compositions, depending on the application. The easy slippage between polymer chains is the reason behind polymers’ low friction. As a result, polymers are used to create abrasion-resistant fabrics.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 20 companies, spanning technology vendors, established apparel companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of abrasion-resistant polymer blended fabrics.

Key players in abrasion-resistant polymer blended fabrics – a disruptive innovation in the apparel industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to abrasion-resistant polymer blended fabrics

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toray Industries 59 Unlock company profile
Teijin 58 Unlock company profile
DuPont de Nemours 53 Unlock company profile
Asahi Kasei 28 Unlock company profile
W. L. Gore & Associates 26 Unlock company profile
InterTech Group 16 Unlock company profile
CEA 15 Unlock company profile
B&C Private Foundation 14 Unlock company profile
Ten Medical Design 12 Unlock company profile
Mitsui Chemicals 11 Unlock company profile
Milliken & Co 9 Unlock company profile
Elevate Textiles 7 Unlock company profile
Politechnika Lodzka 6 Unlock company profile
Barrday 6 Unlock company profile
Royal DSM 5 Unlock company profile
NIKE 5 Unlock company profile
Corteva 5 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 5 Unlock company profile
Intel 5 Unlock company profile
Toray Fluorofibers (America) 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leading companies in terms of patents filed in the polymer-blended abrasion-resistant fabrics space are Toray Industries, Teijin, DuPont de Nemours, Asahi Kasei, and W. L. Gore & Associates. In March 2022, Toray Industries stated that it developed a superior-strength textile that uses Toyoflon, a polytetrafluoroethylene fibre with low friction. This textile has imbibed the high friction resistance of fluoropolymers. Toray’s tests indicate the textile’s slide durability is greater than that of its counterparts by 25 times, as friction declines by more than 50%.

In terms of application diversity, Mitsui Chemicals, InterTech Group, Intel, DuPont de Nemours, and W. L. Gore & Associates are the top companies.

The leading players in terms of geographic reach are W. L. Gore & Associates, B&C Private Foundation, Politechnika Lodzka, InterTech Group, and Teijin.

Owing to their low friction and abrasion resistance, polymer-blended fabrics are likely to be introduced by more companies in the future. By reducing maintenance costs and conserving resources by less-frequent replacement of fabrics, these fabrics are also more sustainable.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the apparel industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Apparel.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.