The apparel industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by comfort and convenience, and growing importance of technologies such as blended fabrics and interlaced yarn fabrics. 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 yarn footwear

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 yarn footwear is a key innovation area in apparel 

Blended yarn is the most in demand material for preparing shoe uppers. Blended yarns are light in weight, contain breathable properties, and are highly customisable.  

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 blended yarn footwear. 

Key players in blended yarn footwear – 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 yarn footwear

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
DuPont de Nemours 92 Unlock company profile
Teijin 45 Unlock company profile
Toray Industries 25 Unlock company profile
Welspun Group 23 Unlock company profile
Japan Wool Textile 17 Unlock company profile
InterTech Group 16 Unlock company profile
National Safety Apparel 16 Unlock company profile
Granberg 14 Unlock company profile
Eastman Chemical Co 13 Unlock company profile
B&C Private Foundation 12 Unlock company profile
Albany International 12 Unlock company profile
Nilit 12 Unlock company profile
Spinnova 11 Unlock company profile
Milliken & Co 10 Unlock company profile
NIKE 9 Unlock company profile
Compass Diversified Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
Corteva 8 Unlock company profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 8 Unlock company profile
Brrr! 7 Unlock company profile
Elevate Textiles 6 Unlock company profile
Toray Opelontex 6 Unlock company profile
Toyobo 5 Unlock company profile
Sanko Holding 5 Unlock company profile
Huvis 5 Unlock company profile
Royal DSM 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 blended yarn footwear space are DuPont de Nemours, Teijin, Toray Industries, Welspun Group, and Japan Wool Textile. There have been many innovations in the blended yarn space. In March 2022, JP Modatex India and DuPont Biomaterials have introduced a spun yarn collection prepared with a blend of DuPont Sorona staple fibres and natural fibres. 

The key players in terms of application diversity in this space are Brrr!, B&C Private Foundation, Elevate Textiles, and Nike. 

In terms of geographic reach, the leading players are Albany International, Teijin, B&C Private Foundation, and InterTech Group. 

Future consumers’ footwear choices will be driven by a lot of fabrics, and factors such as lightweight, breathability, and convenience. Blended yarn footwear will gain momentum as a result. 

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.