The apparelindustry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by safety and technology, and the growing importance of technologies such as synthetic 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: Polyester industrial 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, 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

Polyester industrial clothing is a key innovation area in apparel

Polyester is a widely used fabric for clothing across the globe. The fabric is widely known for its durability, ability to retain shape, and moisture resistance. Polyester is used in a variety of products such as parka jackets, windbreakers, and other outerwear. It is also used to manufacture tote bags, workout bags, and backpacks due to its unique properties and low cost.

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 polyester industrial clothing.

Key players in polyester industrial 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 polyester industrial clothing

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
NIKE 108 Unlock company profile
DuPont de Nemours 38 Unlock company profile
Omya International 29 Unlock company profile
Berkshire Hathaway 26 Unlock company profile
Toray Industries 24 Unlock company profile
Koch Industries 17 Unlock company profile
Kimberly-Clark 14 Unlock company profile
Eastman Chemical Co 13 Unlock company profile
Albany International 12 Unlock company profile
ES Fibervisions Hong Kong 12 Unlock company profile
Canopus International 12 Unlock company profile
Brrr! 11 Unlock company profile
VF 10 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical 10 Unlock company profile
Huvis 9 Unlock company profile
Idemitsu Kosan 9 Unlock company profile
ES Fibervisions 9 Unlock company profile
Asahi Kasei 8 Unlock company profile
Dow 8 Unlock company profile
Teijin 6 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Companies that lead the polyester garments space in terms of patents filed are Nike, DuPont de Nemours, Omya International, and Berkshire Hathaway. Nike extensively uses recycled polyester-based fabrics to design cheap and durable sportswear products. In February 2022, Nike collaborated with the German techwear brand, Acronym, to launch a collection of highly functional stadium jerseys. The fabric used in the jerseys is 100% recycled polyester fibre.

The leading companies in this space with regard to application diversity are Asahi Kasei, Dow, Canopus International, and ES Fibervisions.

The major companies in terms of geographic reach are Nike, Omya International, Albany International, and Berkshire Hathaway.

The popularity of polyester industrial clothing mainly comes from its cheap price, durability, and moisture resistance. However, it is considered to be the biggest contributor of pollution in the apparel sector because of its non-biodegradable nature. In order to counter this issue, retailers are recycling and reusing garments made of polyester.

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.