Textile innovation, fashion's playground

Today, textiles are everywhere, from decorative textures to invisible membranes, seductive and functional, they are with us during every moment of our lives. The principles of innovation are no longer the privilege of textile specialists and have now trickled down through a number of industries, being used in different types of materials, created for a wide range of applications. A cross-disciplinary, combinatorial hybrid, the textile represents an important addition to all areas of design.

The prospective study “Innovative textiles for 2030”, conducted by the Observatoire des Textiles Techniques (OTT) and presented at the opening of the Centre Européen des Textiles Innovants (CETI) takes us into the future. “In 2030, it will be necessary to face an important demographic issue with 8 billion people on earth. Natural resources should be preserved and recycled, new organically sourced materials will be developed and the production of textiles using oil resources will be limited.”

How can we predict the manners and habits of tomorrow? By hiring multi-sector corporations and prospective groups which bring together experts, architects, scientists, designers, engineers and decision makers to imagine how to look to the future using new applications of advanced textiles.

Some assumptions: The growing mobility of people and resources will provoke the emergence of a sort of professional nomadism. Innovative textiles will bring new solutions to durable and ephemeral housing using composites as well as light and resistant membranes. The house of the future must be energetically autonomous and will offer protection against pollution and variations in the climate.

For a number of years, the Renault company has been working to reduce air pollution in side as well as outside of their cars by developing a number of textile filters. It is an issue which is becoming more and more important for car designers but which has a future in other domains such as clothing, with the development of unpolluted and photocatalytic clothes, which are genuine screens against environmental pollution. A source of stress, sound pollution is also the subject of a great deal of research. As in the field of town planning and the experimentation with soundproof walls – without using physical walls – by strategically placing trees. Also in the textile sector a prototype for an urban shelter created by Clémentire Caurier and Alix Peitit was presented by the CETI at its opening.

The research for new shape-memory textiles, initially created for the development of flexible spaces in housing, has been repeated in fashion thanks to the more adaptable versions of this sort of fabric : clothes that we wear throughout the day which change their properties depending on the ambient climate or physical exertion. These “smart textiles” bring increased intelligence to materials thanks to their macro-sensors and their integrated conductive polymers and can be used for personalised clothes for work or sports.

Notably via the micro encapsulation of creams, smells and tastes, initially used as treatments, these cosmetic textiles have found their place in the fashion industry thanks to the possibility of personalising clothes according to trends and tastes and with the aim of making them more comfortable.

From the classic membranes which offer protection against bad weather but which, tomorrow, could protect against certain types of chemical products or even electromagnetic waves, to new performing non woven materials which are already being used to harness energy, the innovation of new textiles continues. They offer stylists and designers the possibility to imagine new creations and developments. Textiles with added value are becoming familiar; light and flexible, comfortable and resistant and always more intelligent thanks to their integrated properties.

Diversity and adaptability are essential components of the innovation of tomorrow. Bringing together architecture, design, science, research and development, the arts, technology and resources, they get to the heart of the problem in order to imagine new concepts. Thanks to these interactions, new generations of products are being created which are at once innovative and desirable opening up new horizons in the world of fashion.