Dressed smart: the rise of biometric clothing

Ryan Boyd
Dressed smart: the rise of biometric clothing

Wearables have really taken off this year, with countless smartwatches and fitness trackers being released, and Google Glass’ making heads turn everywhere.

But while a good number of us already don glasses and watches, clothes are certainly something all of us (hopefully) wear each day. So when Ralph Lauren debuted their biometric enabled polo at this year’s US Open, it perhaps signalled the shift the fashion world had been anticipating for a while.

“Anything that Ralph Lauren does is not a whimsical, let’s give it a crack sort of thing,” says Francis Hooper from WORLD. “He’s a genius marketeer. For me I think it’s just another credit to his plumage. He’s already nailed Wimbledon, and this is another real sales and marketing opportunity.”

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The Ralph Lauren polo has smart silver-based thread sensors knitted into the fabric, allowing the wearer’s heart rate, breathing, and stress levels to be accurately monitored. While not the first venture into smartclothes territory, with companies such as NuMetrex leading the way, the difference is Ralph Lauren has shown high fashion has a place in this world too.

“Biometrics and technology is a point of difference for the consumer who has money and thinks about their lifestyle and wants to differentiate themselves,” Francis says.

“That’s the future. That’s technology. That’s just around the corner. Definitely you’ll see it in the next decade on High Street, the H&Ms, the huge companies.”

Not surprisingly, it’s the sportswear market that is first adopting these modern fabrics, but Francis is keen to see how else technology influences fashion in the future.

“It’s a really exciting time and even for us as a small high fashion brand in New Zealand we’ve noticed how fabrics have really changed. The technology is just that much better. They’ve got fabrics that are infused with vitamins, and it sounds wacky but I could see how it could be commercialised and whittled down and taken very seriously.”

“And with nanotechnology, which is 20 years away, everything will change. That’s beyond. It’s Star Trek.”

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