The apparel industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by safety, comfort, and technology and the growing importance of technologies such as blended fabrics and fire-retardant garments. 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 Innovation in Apparel: Blended aramid fire-resistant fabrics. 

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, yarn chemical treatment, embossed protective clothing, and garment laser embossing are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Fire retardant garments, antistatic fabrics, and interlaced yarn fabrics are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are flat knitting machines and coated yarn fabrics, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for the apparel industry 

Blended aramid fire-resistant fabrics is a key innovation area in apparel 

Aramid fibres are a type of heat-resistant and highly resilient synthetic fibres. The substance that forms the fibre is a long-chain synthetic polyamide, with 85% of the amide linkages in the substance directly linked to two aromatic rings. Aramid fibres have many applications including bullet-proof vests, heat-resistant textiles such as firefighting uniforms and safety gloves, high-performance sporting goods, and optical fibres. 

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established apparel companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of blended aramid fire-resistant fabrics. 

Key players in blended aramid fire-resistant 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 blended aramid fire-resistant fabrics

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
DuPont de Nemours 129 Unlock company profile
Teijin 56 Unlock company profile
NIKE 25 Unlock company profile
Welspun Group 23 Unlock company profile
Elevate Textiles 21 Unlock company profile
Toray Industries 18 Unlock company profile
Japan Wool Textile 17 Unlock company profile
InterTech Group 16 Unlock company profile
National Safety Apparel 14 Unlock company profile
Milliken & Co 12 Unlock company profile
Corteva 12 Unlock company profile
Ansell 9 Unlock company profile
W. L. Gore & Associates 9 Unlock company profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 8 Unlock company profile
Mmi Ipco 7 Unlock company profile
Toray Fluorofibers (America) 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leading players in the blended aramid fire-resistant fabrics space in terms of patents filed are DuPont de Nemours, Teijin, Nike, Welspun Group, and Elevate Textiles. Kevlar is an aramid fibre trademark offered by DuPont. In October 2022, DuPont Personal Protection announced its plan to introduce a new portfolio of Kevlar engineered yarns. These yarns are designed to provide protection against heat, flame, and electric arc hazards.  

Mmi Ipco, W. L. Gore & Associates, Elevate Textiles, InterTech Group, and Teijin are the leading players in this space in terms of application diversity.  

The leading players in this market in terms of geographic reach are W. L. Gore & Associates, Ansell, Nike, InterTech Group, and Teijin.  

Aramid fibres are likely to be used more widely in the future as they have properties such as high strength, lightweight, high thermal and chemical stability, high tensile modulus, low density, non-flammable and heat resistance, insulation, resistance to impact and damage, and low moisture absorption.  

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.