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How Tech & Fashion Impact Fabric Choices

Consumers want active lifestyle items that perform well and look good. To keep pace with that demand, two important trends are currently driving product innovation: Wearable “smart” fabrications that offer added functionality are a key driver, and so, too, is the development of materials that enhance comfort and aesthetic qualities of “athleisure” style. The charts shown here shine a light on how tech and fashion impact consumers shopping behavior. For example 73 percent of respondents report that interest in smart fabrics over the past year increased, and — not surprisingly — 79 percent of respondents currently own a smart watch or fitness tracking device. Yet, 63 percent of those surveyed report that fabric performance such as wicking is still considered a higher priority than smart fabric tech. That belief may be due to some confusion and misunderstanding of what makes something a “smart textile.” Direct quotes from survey respondents on the topic illuminate need for clarity on this emerging category. When it comes to the role of fashion in shopping decision-making, 62 percent of respondents report that it is somewhat important that the performance product align with fashion trends. Indeed a smaller than expected percentage of survey participants own wardrobes with a large selection of athleisure wear. While respondents report to be generally in favor of the comfort and versatility that athleisure looks afford, sentiment exists that these casual, stylish looks lack fitness authenticity. For example, when asked to define athleisure one survey participant responded, “You looked like you just worked out, but did you?”

The panel consisted of 228 Testers. Ages: 18-60. Gender: Male and Female. Brief: Seeking active athletic adults who participate in both indoor and outdoor sports and activities multiple times per week. i.e. Running, Hiking Cycling, Triathlon, Cross-training etc.
Athletic Casual
What percentage of your current workout wardrobe transitions easily from sport to street wear?
How important is it to you that performance product align with current fashion trends?
When considering the purchase of tech-enabled apparel and footwear, what are the most challenging aspects?
Smart Choices
When shopping for tech-enabled apparel and footwear, what is your BEST source for information to learn about the technology or benefits?
Smart Fabrics
Has your interest in tech-enabled apparel and footwear increased in the past year?
Do you currently own a smart watch or fitness tracking device?
Would you pay more for a product made from textiles that connect to a fitness app?
Has the ability to provide personal fitness data when purchasing activewear or footwear become more of a priority compared to conventional performance attributes like wicking?

How would you define athleisure?

Casual athletic wear for sports performance and day-to-day activities.

Athletic apparel that looks good enough to wear when not working out.

Athleisure to me is athletic wear people who don’t really exercise wear. I avoid athleisure whereever I can.

Clothing that people who don’t work out would buy.

Athlete leisure.

Casual apparel that has an athletic look.

To be honest I don’t know what to say. It sounds like a weird word.

You look like you just worked out, but did you?

Stylish enough to be street clothes, while functional enough to be able to workout in.

Athlete anytime.

Athleisure is functional clothing designed to be worn in athletic activities and/or casual settings.

Casual athletic clothing made for lounging.

It’s a made-up word so that people who don’t work out don’t have to feel lazy about wearing workout clothes as regular clothes.

Leisure clothing designed to look like athletic wear.

Fitness apparel that also supports lifestyle tasks.

Yoga pants as pants. The end.

Clothes that you could work out in but mostly wear to hang around and look sporty.

Athletic fit and performance with with a comfortable and professional style.

Activewear that’s fashionable enough to wear casually.

Stuff instagram models wear in their sponsored posts.  Looks trendy, not functional.

As “business-casual” means casual clothes that are okay to wear to work, “athleisure”, to me, means fitness clothing that is acceptable apparel at business or social functions.


Potentially practical, but way too overpriced to make sense.

Workout gear you can wear beyond the gym.

Something I don’t want any part of.

Garments made with tech fabrics that don’t have the aggressive styling of athletic-only clothing.

Something that looks sporty/athletic, but isn’t really intended for athletic use.

Clothing that makes you look like you just worked out.

Recreational athlete who participates in intramural or club teams but is not “competitive”.

Lazy people wanting to look like athletes.

Something that is comfortable to wear all day yet be extremely active in at a seconds notice.

It’s luxury for athletes.

Nice sweats.


How would you define smart fabrics?

The one with which smart devices are compatible.

Wickening, stretch, keeps temperature of wearer.

Clothes that can connect with fitness apps to help track vitals and progress.

Adjusts to my temperature - if it’s cool outside, helps me stay warm. If it’s warm outside, helps me stay cool. Wicks water away so i feel dry - fabric does not feel ‘heavy’ as i work out.

Fabric material that performs a specific function.

Fabrics that track info and data about the user/environment.

Fabric with ability to monitor things like temperature and heart rate.

A material that is 0 maintenance, wicking, doesn’t shrink, doesn’t retain odor.

Fabrics technically designed for a purpose, like sweatproof, sunblocking, etc..

A fabric that doesn’t wrinkle easily or collect lint.

Fabrics that feel tailored to your fit and size.

Fancy technology with questionable results.

A way to track your fitness through your clothes.

Clothes that interact with technology.

Fabrics that react to what your body is doing.

Sounds like marketing baloney.

Fabric embedded with one or more devices to monitor HR, BP, sweat, body temp, etc..

Fabric that has the ability to respond based on the conditions.

Responsive to wearer through fit, material or function.

Moves with you.

It means moisture-wicking, warm-when-wet, light and durable and a bunch of other quasi-marketing terms.

Something that is wrinkle free and wicks sweat and can have electronics built in.

Fabrics which make the workout experience more pleasant (i.e. sweat-wicking fabrics).

Integrated with a technology -- whether it’s bacteria-resistant or, measuring biomarkers with a new technology.

Fabrics with some sort of sensor embedded in them.

I have never heard this term before.

Clothes with electronic gadgets in them.

Fabrics that have some sort of technology built in that interacts with smartphones.

That the fabric produces data that claim to measure the fabric’s effectiveness and I should want that data to make better decisions about what shirt to buy and wear.


What is your best source for information when shopping?

Comments from previous buyers are generally helpful.

Word of mouth is the best, I think as most have put the product to the test and give unbiased feedback.

Reading reviews is the best source of info then asking friends who have the apparel.

I would use blogs and company websites. I feel many times that store associates are grossly under educated with products and are forced into a profit game of pushing certain products.

I don’t really shop for “smart fabrics” but I get a kick out of company ads trying to convince people they “need” the stuff, HA!

Friends could be a point of interest... then follow with the company website.

In general, I would rely on the company’s website to provide the information on the product, then glance at the customer reviews to see if the company’s claims are substantiated.

Well-educated sales associates can be a wealth of information.  

I try to seek neutral, unbiased opinions, usually from those who have similar activity patterns as me.

Advertising and friends usage are pretty much a split.  I also rely on In-Store sales associates but only after learning of and researching the product to a point where I go to shop.

Early adopter product reviews tend to have the best info.

YouTube reviews by other users.

At this point - word of mouth is probably best. I’m a bit skeptical that they are worth a premium so if a friend used them and loved them -I may give it a shot.

I mainly read articles on athletic wear on websites that cater to women, and exercise such as: Runners World, Womens’ Health, and Women’s Running.

Whatever Google chooses for me.

Online review sites and magazine articles.

Company websites and advertising are good for the positives, but typically blogs and friends are more balanced.  I find most of the time in store associated are not fully aware unless they have used a given product.