Where are textiles taking us?
Source: Good Free Photos
For centuries, textiles have inspired trade and technology. The silk road gave us Marco Polo and the Age of Exploration; the Industrial Revolution gave us thread-producing mills in midlands-England and water-rich New England; aniline dyes created intense, basic black fabrics in the early 20th century and stimulated the chemical industry; synthetic fibers like rayon and nylon made wrinkle-free clothes possible and build the fortunes of the DuPont family.
Everyone’s excited by their FitBit or smart watch, but clothes are the original wearable tech. Whether it’s sweats or jeans or khakis, our clothes now combine natural, synthetic, and micro-fibers to make them more comfortable, cheaper, and better looking. But we don’t think of high fashion as high-tech.
But tech and textiles have been interwoven ever since the Athena was considered the goddess of both wisdom and weaving—and turned the mortal Arachne into a spider when she offended the goddess in a contest. Textiles illustrate a general point about technology: the more we use something, the more we take it for granted. We’re obsessed by the latest smart phone, but a new PC is boring.
Nevertheless, we should expect more interaction between our garb and our gear: shirts that have cellular antenna fabric woven through them, or clothes that use our own motion to generate electricity, where the material becomes a wearable textile circuit.
Shakespeare once noted, “The apparel proclaims the man.” We could update this today to, “Our fashion is our future.”
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
Leave a comment if you have any questions—I read them all!