5 Designers Using Smart Textiles in Intelligent Ways


Alexandra Saad

From Uniqlo to Lululemon, we've often heard about brands using "smart" textiles to set their collections ahead of the pack. But what is it that makes these materials so intelligent? And who are the latest crop of independent designers taking advantage of these new technologies? Here are five designers using smart textiles in intelligent ways.

Smart textiles can be broken into two different categories - aesthetic and performance enhancing.  Aesthetic textiles include everything from fabrics that light up to fabrics that can change color.  Some of these fabrics gather energy from the environment by harnessing vibrations, sound or heat, reacting to this input.  


Then there are performance enhancing smart textiles, which will have a huge impact on the athletic, extreme sports and military industries. The health and beauty industry is also taking advantage of these innovations, which range from drug-releasing medical textiles, to fabric with moisturizer, perfume, and anti-aging properties. 

Here are just a few designers using textiles to create innovative garments for the future.

Christine Mayer

Christine Mayer has her showroom in Berlin-Mitte. Her label represents the fusion of fashion, social commitment and the transformation of recycled materials. She's had an absolute hit with her algae shirts, which are not only look great with any outfit but also nurture the skin.

Wearable Solar

Pauline van Dongen researches the body in a technologically textured space, and started her own womenswear label in 2010. She constantly combines new technologies with traditional techniques to renovate craftsmanship. Working closely with companies from the field of science and innovation, Pauline aims to merge fashion and technology giving life to scientific creations. Her start-up Wearable Solar is using technology to make lightweight wired garments that enable the wearer to charge a smartphone up to 50 percent if worn in the sun for a full hour.

Dear Kate

Recognizing that most lingerie cannot keep up with a woman’s body, chemical engineer Julie Sygiel knew there had to be a better alternative. So, she hit the lab and developed the silky-soft, patent-pending fabric behind each pair of Dear Kates. Made in NYC, each pair is wicking, stain releasing, and leak-resistant. Her mission is to give women the confidence to do anything by equipping them with underwear that’s up for the challenge. Dear Kate has also recently launched a line of yoga wear that includes pants which are built to allow women to go commando whenever they feel like it.


Internationally-known fashion house CuteCircuit has been pushing the boundaries of wearable technology since its launch in 2004. A global leader in interactive fashion, CuteCircuit has introduced many ground-breaking ideas to the fashion world by integrating new beauty and functionality through the use of smart textiles and micro-electronics. CuteCircuit boasts a host of internationally fashionable and fabulous celebrity fans such as Nicole Scherzinger and Katy Perry.  The label launched its Prêt-á-Porter line in 2010, bringing the first-ever technologically infused ready to wear to major fashion retailers. The technology used in the garments is 100% RoHS compliant, this means that no hazardous substances are present in the products and that they are free from lead and mercury as well, and are safe to wear. The textiles used are also Oeko Tex certified, this means that they have been tested for safety and manufactured without harmful materials.

Rainbow Winters

Some people want to make our clothing, well, do more. Amy Winters, the designer of the Rainbow Winters clothing line, has answered this call by creating garments that respond to their environment. For example, several of her dresses are made with holographic leather and react to sound. As volume increases, the leather begins to illuminate and make what Winters describes as "visual music." Her bathing suit line also reacts to light, with the center panels turning into purple dots in the sun.