Technology is gradually changing everything we do, and everything we wear.
Right now there are technological advancements happening that are changing every aspect of the menswear industry. Websites that offer custom manufactured products, 3D body scanners to get the perfect fit, personalized avatars to try-on digital clothes, synthetic fabrics tested in laboratories to regulate your body temperature… It’s really just the beginning.
It’s no secret that an increasingly greater percentage of overall apparel sales are happening online. One day I think we’ll all be wearing clothing that was custom ordered just for us, tailored using some type of digital fitting technology, and probably produced using more synthetic fibers than natural ones. It will become more of a science than an art, I think.
With that said, here are three companies who are using innovative technology to offer a unique product or experience in menswear. They could just be a glimpse into the future.
MTailor creates custom tailored shirts using a smartphone rather than a measuring tape. A proprietary image mapping technology developed by the brand’s co-founders allows them to create a complex 3D map of your body, from only a few seconds of video. While it’s a little silly recording a video of a hands-up-360-spin in your underwear, the finished product is a surprisingly well tailored shirt. Of all the companies we reviewed, this was one of the more impressive (and obvious) examples of how technology will be implemented into e-commerce in the near future.
The problem with e-commerce is that you can’t try an item on before buying it. Well, there are several start-ups developing technologies to change that. Atelier Made-to-Measure eyewear, for example, uses the webcam on your laptop to allow you to “try-on” their glasses and see how they fit. A 3D rendering of the style chosen is overlaid on your face, live and to scale. They even rotate along with your head to show the different angles of the glasses. It looks surprisingly realistic and gives you a good idea of the proportions and shape of the frames. This is a good example of how the camera, or video camera, on your computer/phone might not only become your tailor, but also your optometrist.
PERFORMANCE FABRICS MEET CLASSIC MENSWEAR
One of the other areas where technology is having a major impact on menswear is in fabric innovation. The science of synthetic fabrics has come a long way, as we’ve seen with modern athletic apparel. Guys are starting to take note of the comfort advantages of smart fabrics, to the point where they are slowly infiltrating the office place (where cotton has always dominated). One of the brands leading the charge to bring these smart fabrics to traditional menswear pieces is Ministry of Supply.
As you can see above, the Apollo shirt is specifically designed to allow a full range of motion while staying cool and dry: “Taking NASA’s lead, we incorporated Phase Change Material (PCM) into the Apollo. It’s the same technology used to regulate astronauts’ body temperature in space suits: PCM absorbs heat away from your skin when you’re overheated, then releases it when you’re cold – for a dress shirt that keeps you at just the right temperature all day”. The Aviator chino , also shown above, is made from a custom blend of lightweight nylon & elastane that has a full 360 stretch and is also waterproof (and stain-proof).
Well, there you have it. Just three examples of the many ways that technology is gradually affecting menswear. What do you think? Are e-commerce and tech-y fabrics the future of menswear? Will the small boutique shopkeeper still be around 50 years from now?