The apparel industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by comfort, convenience, and technology, and growing importance of technologies such as nanofibres, breathable sports garments, and heat reflector clothing. 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 Environmental sustainability in Apparel: Arylene nanofibre clothing.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

20+ innovations will shape the apparel industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the apparel industry using innovation intensity models built on over 13,000 patents, there are 20+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, heat reflector clothing, UV-treated garments, and recycled material shoes are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Arylene nanofibre clothing and blended aramid fire-resistant fabrics are the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are anti-microbial undergarment fabrics and breathable sports garments, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the apparel industry

Arylene nanofibre clothing is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Polymer nanofibres are those with very minute fibre diameters that are less than 1,000nm. Polymer nanofibres have unique properties owing to their large surface per unit mass and small pore size. These fabrics are used in protective clothing and breathable sports 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 arylene nanofibre clothing.

Key players in arylene nanofibre clothing – 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 arylene nanofibre clothing

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Teijin 139 Unlock company profile
DuPont de Nemours 92 Unlock company profile
Toray Industries 44 Unlock company profile
NIKE 26 Unlock company profile
Welspun Group 23 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical 18 Unlock company profile
Berkshire Hathaway 18 Unlock company profile
Milliken & Co 17 Unlock company profile
Japan Wool Textile 17 Unlock company profile
InterTech Group 16 Unlock company profile
Elevate Textiles 15 Unlock company profile
Corteva 12 Unlock company profile
Albany International 12 Unlock company profile
JAPANGOATEKKUSU 12 Unlock company profile
Brrr! 11 Unlock company profile
Koch Industries 11 Unlock company profile
Lenzi Egisto 10 Unlock company profile
W. L. Gore & Associates 10 Unlock company profile
Asahi Kasei 8 Unlock company profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 8 Unlock company profile
Arville Textiles 7 Unlock company profile
Kuraray 7 Unlock company profile
Mmi Ipco 7 Unlock company profile
Politechnika Lodzka 6 Unlock company profile
Coolcore 6 Unlock company profile
Barrday 6 Unlock company profile
Compass Diversified Holdings 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leading players in the arylene nanofibre clothing space are Teijin, DuPont de Nemours, Toray Industries, NIKE, and Welspun Group. In November 2022, Toray announced its plan to rebrand its Dermizax brand, which offers waterproof breathable fabric for outdoor wear and sportswear. The brand will be available in three varieties. One of these varieties is Dermizax Breathe, an electrospun nanofibre that offers high breathability and waterproofness.

Mmi Ipco is the leading player in arylene nanofibre clothing space in terms of application diversity. It is followed by W. L. Gore & Associates, Elevate Textiles, and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical.

The leading players in terms of geographic reach are Albany International, Arville Textiles, Politechnika Lodzka, and JapanGoatEkkusu.

Amid the pandemic, consumers became more health and fitness conscious. More people have started taking fitness and sports activities seriously. With increasing temperatures and heatwaves, it has become important to wear breathable garments while working out. The demand for these garments will grow in the coming years.

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.