Much has been said about 2020; from climate change, humanitarian and political crisis, COVID-19 contagion, to vaccines’ discovery, and now we are moving toward Industry 5.0. Pandemic indeed has significant economic impacts on the global value chain. There will be winners and less oblivious winners, too. The fashion and textile industry are greatly affected at the beginning of COVID-19; however, some sectors are set to jump when the world starts returning to normal in 2021. Analysts made predictions over predictions as they look at consumer behaviour and demand changes throughout the year. Predictably, the key trend for post-pandemic will be focusing more on flexibility and diversity.
Now, e-commerce has snowballed over the year. Recent data shows that the pioneer of e-commerce, China building its influences among international consumers, with affordable shipping cost. Many deals, unique and diverse items are offered, which consumers will always be looking. Pandemic also acts as a catalyst to bring many more people with different backgrounds online. This situation represents a clear and immediate opportunity for retailers, especially when it comes to e-commerce. This widening of online consumers may also trigger a new digital innovation wave, resulting in new platforms, new services, and even unique preferences.
Quoted from TextileToday.com, manager director of the textile and apparel industry of Bangladesh, Khantex Fashion Ltd said diversifying is the critical tool in moving forward the Ready-made Garments (RMG) manufacturing or textile apparel business. Unique offerings and differentiated shopping experiences undoubtedly hold the key for today’s consumers’ trend.
Product diversification is vital in today’s fashion
Opportunities arise for textile and apparel entrepreneurs in these rough times. Customers act different, and retailers are struggling to adapt through digitalisation. To appease new market needs, diversifying products and collaborators are a need. Many retailers are looking for new partners to increase product ranges or fill a demand exposed by the pandemic, such as multifunctional items for hygienic purposes.
As we all know, apparel is one of the essential needs of society. However, fashion has its evolution in its functionality based on individual, gender, culture; in fulfilling their preferences and needs of desire. As mentioned by the World Economic Forum, in the path to industrialisation, the textile and apparel industry considered as a starter sector that could be a core driver of development and employment. In some countries where the global textile market is estimated to be $950 billion, which expected to rise over $1.2 trillion by 2022. As an aside, sustainability has become an emerging trend across fashion retail, made to replace raw materials rapidly.
Likewise, technical and smart textiles also have enormous potential to be integrated into this industry, such as women’s and men’s apparel, kidswear, activewear, traditional wear, undergarments, bed linen and accessories. Apparel for nanotechnology sees positive growth. Stated in the Nanotechnology Clothing Global Market Report 2020-30: COVID-19 Growth and Change, the demand for nanotechnology fashion will influence and alter our lives over the next ten years and beyond, including markets’ response to the pandemic.
Varying Textiles and Apparel with Nanotechnology
Nanoparticles are increasingly used along with fibres or embedded on clothing to enhance the surface characteristics of clothes such as antimicrobial, odour-resistant, waterproof, antistatic or UV-protection, breathability, and cooling, durable and lightweight, wrinkle-resistant, insect repellent, flame retardancy and better thermal performance. The nanotechnology applications include nano-finishing, nano-fibre, nano-composites, and nonwoven textiles.
Based on Statnano.com, 62 countries had harnessed nanotechnology. Only 41 countries had specifically ventured into textile sectors such as United States, China, Germany, Iran, United Kingdom, Australia, Czech Republic, Taiwan, Italy, and Japan. Many of the well-known companies active in the industrial textile field have now embraced nanotechnology, including Adidas Group, NIKE Inc, Yachticon Inc, Givenchy, ASICS Corporation, O’NEILL, Gore Bike Wear, and many more.
In particular, the global market for technical textiles generates tremendous traction from increasing demand for functional fabric for safety and monitoring in the industrial sector. Nanotechnology is likely to play a significant role in developing the textile and fashion industry due to the diverse applications across several end-use industries, such as infrastructure, manufacturing, automotive, aviation, defence, clothing and healthcare. As well, factors such as the rising healthcare spending worldwide, public consciousness on health and hygiene, and growing preferences for antimicrobial clothing are projected to boost the demand for antimicrobial textiles in the future. Hence, antimicrobial textiles market showed a growth rate close to 9.8 per cent CAGR from the period of 2020 to 2026.
According to McKinsey’s State of Fashion report, sportswear, activewear, and loungewear appeared as the champions through the pandemic. The rise of the higher-tech materials and construction activewear demand recently has also added more value to the consumers. Technology such as self-cleaning and antimicrobial properties inhibits the bacteria’s growth that causes bad odours, stains, fabric deterioration, and even physical irritation. Moreover, by incorporating non-toxic nanoparticles (hybrid nano inorganic element suspension) in fabric, clothes now only need to be washed less frequently which is proven to be reduced by 30 per cent, revealed by Dr Thomas, CEO of NanoTextile Sdn Bhd (NTSB).
NTSB is the first and the only nanotechnology service provider and consultant in Malaysia. They were recently delivering prominent consumer brand firms such as PONEY, FILA, POLO, Pos Malaysia, and Sunway Medical Centre. NTSB is committed to providing the industry leaders with the nanotechnology to grow the textile and fashion landscape in Malaysia in a more advanced, tech-savvy, and sustainable way. “R&D has always been on the agenda of NTSB. Commercialisation of the technologies is crucial by making sure the adaptation of it in textile segments and creating the new value chain of demand and supply,” according to the company. NTSB is now working hand-in-hand with the local fashion brands in growing awareness of the technical textiles in consumers.
However, in Malaysia, the recent data published by the Statistics Department of Malaysia indicates that the textile, apparel, leather, and footwear industries are still struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic’s effects. In that case, it is crucial to highlight the importance of strategic diversification of products, whether by finding new applications for the brand’s profitable potential and technical know-how, or new technology to extend beyond its product range. In building a new direction in these turbulent times, the industries must tackle and collaborate with technology. All in all, nanotechnology will diversify the textile and fashion market.