The Future of Fabric


15 August 2023

The Future of Fabric

When we think of futuristic fabrics that utilise emerging technologies for the benefit of the producer, the consumer and the planet, we might not necessarily think of the bodywear industry as being a driver for change. However, the contour industry is rapidly evolving with more and more specialist fabric mills and manufacturers dominating the space with an increasing overlap of fabric tech between activewear, lingerie and swim.

This past July, the Bodywear Lab team joined CEO and London Contour Experts Group founder, Nichole de Carle, at Interfilière Paris, an international trade fair for the lingerie and swimwear industry. Whilst sustainable innovation through recycled and alternative natural materials was the dominant conversation many were having at the fair, the hottest topic of the weekend was advancements in fabric technology, such as antibacterial and thermoregulation materials as well as smart tech fabrics that can control muscle vibration and reduce wind resistance. 

Additionally, the possibilities of 3D technologies for fabric innovation is a new area many industry experts are focusing on as the fashion industry as a whole explores the metaverse. 


Join us as we explore how fabric is getting futureproof with smart technology textiles and exciting sustainable methods.


A topic that seemingly never goes out of fashion is sustainability and what the fashion industry can be doing to reduce its impact on the planet. With a focus on textile innovation, the bodywear sector is looking to plant-based alternative materials for eco-friendly options that don’t waver on quality. Natural fibres such as those produced from orange, banana and pineapple that feel soft and silky, and vegan leather created using mushrooms or apples are smooth whilst retaining the all important durability. Mushroom leather is created from the stem of the mushroom which grows and can be harvested for production in less than two weeks, whilst hide derived from livestock can take many years to cultivate and use an extensive amount of resources. The textiles created using various fruits and vegetables are all repurposing waste that would otherwise go unused. Vegan silk is also a great sustainable alternative, created from cotton linter and retains its silky look and feel. 

Another great way the industry is looking to elevate their textile use sustainably is through natural or eco dyes that help to reduce the chemical impact on the environment during the production stage, reduce water use and energy consumption during the dying process. There are many natural based dyes used across the world from vegetables beetroot, red cabbage and avocado skins as well as spices like turmeric, flowers such as safflower and marigold as well as barks and other woods. 


Interested in learning more about Bodywear Lab’s commitment to protecting our planet? Head to our sustainability page here, where we detail our policies and practices that ensure we reduce our impact on the environment.


A topic that is on the tip of the tongues of all fashion professionals is 3D technology and how we can be utilising it to not only streamline the design process but to also reduce the industry’s impact on the environment. Whilst other sectors of the fashion industry are well underway experimenting with the possibilities of 3D garment design and printing to create out-of-this-world products, the bodywear industry has been taking a slower pace. This is because good contour design relies on fitting samples onto soft, real bodies to achieve that perfect fit. 


However, textile manufacturers that specialise in the contour industry are swiftly becoming the industry’s innovation drivers with companies such as Chanty beginning to offer 3D technology in lace production, specialising in the lingerie sector. Using 3D, Chanty can create bespoke lace from scratch in just two days, as well as scan any physical lace samples for accurate design to take place in the 3D program. This intelligent tech allows Chanty’s consumers total access to the lace during the development stage, with the added freedom to switch the colour of their chosen lace, as well as change the actual lace design in a second. The benefits of creating your fabric digitally are that not only does the process reduce CO2, water, electricity and resource consumption, but it also saves 50% of the collection production time and 70% of the collection’s developmental costs. By utilising 3D design technology within fabric production, the bodywear industry can help create new and interesting textiles, as well as do its part to reduce the impact on the environment. 


Want to take your brand into the future? Check out our 3D Product Design service offering here!


Smart tech fabrics are intelligent electronic textiles that can use chemical, electrical, thermal, mechanical and magnetic properties in order to enhance the wearer’s experience or create benefits such as wellness and automated regulation. Smart textiles must not hinder the fundamental properties of contour fabrics which are things like comfort, durability and aesthetics and can include cutting edge technologies such as nanotech. Whilst relatively new and not yet hitting mainstream markets, it is predicted that the global value of smart tech fabrics will grow from $934 million USD in 2015 to a whopping $20.6 billion USD by 2030


The two main types of smart fabric technology are aesthetic smart textiles, and performance smart textiles. Aesthetic smart tech fabrics have the ability to create light-emitting clothing, perform a quick colour change in response to its surroundings or may feature an interactive facet such as responding to music or touch. Performance smart tech fabrics on the other hand, focus more on function than fashion and includes a wide range of properties such as monitoring heart rate, regulating body temperature and protecting against radiation amongst many other things. 


The fashion industry, in particular the contour sector, are already exploring how this innovative technology can be implemented into everyday bodywear. In 2017, Wearable X launched their groundbreaking Nadi X Yoga range, a yoga activewear collection that features integrated sensors and haptic feedback via vibrations which aim to improve your yoga practice. The yoga pants have ten haptic motors weaved into the fabric at the knees, hips and ankles which vibrate alternately to let the wearer know which part of their body they should be focusing on as they move through their poses. This allows the wearer to improve their posture in real time, without the need for an instructor or mirror. 


Swimwear brand, Kiniki, is also embracing smart fabric technology but for more aesthetic purposes with their ‘Tan-Through’ fabric tech.  Their patented fabric contains millions of miniscule diamond and square-shaped holes which allow the sun’s UV rays to pass through and the wearer to achieve a full body tan. Besides the beauty benefits, the company claims that this material is also more breathable as well as quick drying, reducing skin irritation and bacteria growth. 

Interested in sourcing your very own smart tech fabric? Check out our fabric sourcing service page here, where we can support you with sourcing consultation as well as bespoke custom sourcing services!


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What is Brands of Tomorrow?

Brands of Tomorrow is a curated program, designed to support the growth of an exclusive group of creative entrepreneurs embarking on the journey to develop their businesses in the bodywear sector.

Interested? Find out more on our sister company,
London Contour Experts website.

What is Brands of Tomorrow

Brands of Tomorrow is a curated program, designed to support the growth of an exclusive group of creative entrepreneurs embarking on the journey to develop their businesses in the bodywear sector.

Interested? Find out more on our sister company,
London Contour Experts website.