The apparel industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by safety, high-intensity warfare, and technology, and the growing importance of technologies such as synthetic fibres, anti-ballistic fabrics, and the woven matrix concept. 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 High-intensity warfare in Apparel: Anti-ballistic garments.

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.

Anti-ballistic garments is a key innovation area in high-intensity warfare

Ballistic fabrics are apparel materials that provide protection against the impact of projectiles, such as bullets and shrapnel. Textile materials have evolved to protect against ballistics. Compared to metals, these are lighter and hence, comfortable. Para-aramids, which are high-modulus organic polymers, are used in anti-ballistic garments.

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 anti-ballistic garments.

Key players in anti-ballistic garments – 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 anti-ballistic garments

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
YKK 145 Unlock company profile
Teijin 81 Unlock company profile
NIKE 71 Unlock company profile
DuPont de Nemours 63 Unlock company profile
Levi Strauss & Co 36 Unlock company profile
Toray Industries 36 Unlock company profile
Asahi Kasei 22 Unlock company profile
W. L. Gore & Associates 19 Unlock company profile
Kimberly-Clark 18 Unlock company profile
InterTech Group 16 Unlock company profile
VF 13 Unlock company profile
B&C Private Foundation 13 Unlock company profile
Kolon Industries 11 Unlock company profile
Honeywell International 10 Unlock company profile
Zephyros 7 Unlock company profile
Elevate Textiles 7 Unlock company profile
Japan Wool Textile 7 Unlock company profile
Fosun Holdings 7 Unlock company profile
CEA 6 Unlock company profile
Barrday 6 Unlock company profile
Corteva 5 Unlock company profile
Toyobo 5 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 5 Unlock company profile
Milliken & Co 5 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 5 Unlock company profile
Toray Fluorofibers (America) 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leading players in terms of patents filed in the anti-ballistic garments space are YKK, Teijin, NIKE, DuPont de Nemours, and Levi Strauss. In June 2022, Teijin announced its plan to introduce its Woven Matrix concept for the simplification of the production of anti-ballistic solutions. This matrix is fibre-based and is manufactured using Twaron, a high-performance para-aramid of Teijin Aramid. Teijin Aramid is a subsidiary of Teijin that specialises in aramids.

The top companies in terms of application diversity are Levi Strauss, Honeywell International, VF, and NIKE.

B&C Private Foundation, VF, Honeywell International, and Fosun are the leading players in terms of geographic reach.

With the growing atmosphere of conflict and unrest around the world, security personnel are now in greater need of anti-ballistic fabrics. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has underlined the importance of such fabrics. As a result, manufacturers such as Teijin need to focus on anti-ballistic garments that are easy to produce on a mass scale.

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.