Consumers are seeking out fashion that serves a function. From shoes that tone to fabrics that resist dirt and odors, more and more, clothes have to perform as beautifully as they look.
“When you look at the quest to get the consumer to buy, differentiating yourself from the competition is the goal," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for market research company NPD Group.
"Retailers are finding different ways and reasons to get consumers to buy again.”
In the wake of the recession, consumers are wary. Although they are slowly starting to spend again, they are in an investment mindset, according to Cohen.
“They are looking for interesting products that could add real value to their everyday lives.”
Click ahead to see some of the newest innovations in fashion.
More on Making Clothes Work For You
By Jessica Naziri
Posted 27 June 2011
Blame it on Apple for turning the MP3 player into a fashion statement. Ever since the iPod's white headphones marked the consumer with the latest gadget, technology has become a fashion statement.
INSOUND's hoodies have headphone ear buds built right into the strings. The other end of the cord goes through the pocket, so you can plug your iPod and be on your way. These sweatshirts come in a variety of colors and also include sleeveless hoodies for the fashionistas.
“Technology has become much more exciting than fashion," said Catherine Moellering, executive vice president at Tobe Report.
"They [retailers and manufacturers] are realizing this is a huge opportunity in the industry and figuring out how to make fashion exciting again.”
She adds, that clothing makers are competing with Apple to be techy and trendy.
Price: $13 to $25.
Japanese apparel manufacturer Uniqlo packs plenty of function into their cotton T-shirts, cardigans, hats and trousers. Pictured here, is an example of its UV Cut line, which is designed to serve as "wearable sunscreen."
Uniqlo worked with Toray Industries, a leading chemical materials manufacturer, since 2006 and the partnership has produced the UV Cut brand as well as two others, Heattech and Silky Dry.
Heattech is designed with fibers as well as natural amino acids from milk protein to ensure the product is soft and prevents warmth from escaping. The Silky Dry line is designed to eliminate odor while it neutralizes, breaks down and eliminates the causes of perspiration and body odor on clothing, not to mention it also keeps wearers cool in the hot, humid summer months.
Instead of throwing back 10 cups of coffee a day, try sucking up some energy through your feet.
Timberland claims these waterproof boots return energy to your step through fatigue-fighting technology.
The company says the secret is in its anti-fatigue technology,which dissipates the impact of the work floor and returns energy to your feet. The contoured, single-density footbed is made with shock-absorbing polyurethane. The footbed cushions and comforts your walk so you can work those long hours without battering your feet.
Price: 18,000 euros
An electric guitar stiletto that literally rocks. Designer Max Kibardin and performance art group, Chicks on Speed, have designed E-shoe high heels that double up as an electronic wireless guitar.
The stiletto is designed with an industrialized plastic plateau, stainless steal guitar strings, as well as plastic and leather uppers.
Alex Murray-Leslie of Chicks on Speed told DazedDigital.com, “People about five or ten years ago were talking about blurring the boundaries between art and fashion and music, and now it’s going further than that, it’s actually combining them and using technology to take them to another level. I just think it’s this other place that you can take all of these mediums to together; it’s almost like the glue between them.”
The “E-shoe” comes in five of colors including red, neon yellow, purple, black and neon orange. You can find these shoes at the Kate Macgarry Galleryin London, England.
Waterproof and breathable fabrics are a staple in athletic wear, but these fabrics are moving to other types of clothing.
Jockey has now taken this concept to their staycool brief, which it touted as being able to make the skin feel up to three degrees cooler.
You can chose from a variety of boxers or briefs made out of 100 percent cotton for breathability and comfort even during the summer months.
Wearing a bandana on your neck is now the most fashionably functionalway to keep bugs away. The odorless insect shield, Bugsaway Bandana, claims to reduce bites from potentially disease-carrying insects by 97 percent. It also has 30+ sun protection to keep away from harmful UV rays.
The insect shield repellant lasts for about seven washings. You can even wear it around your neck, in your hair, or even put it around your dog's collar.
Levi's plans to sell in July the Commuter Series line, which includes a wide range of apparel, specifically designed to solve the problem commuting cyclists have. These items, from skinny jeans to trucker jackets, are durable combining a NanoSphere Technology to make fabric water resistant and dirt repellant. Other features include antimicrobial properties and reflective tape on the interior cuff of the jeans, offering a high level of visibility at the waistband.
Commuter series clothing can be found at select independent bike shops, Levi’s Stores and Urban Outfitters.
A good jolt of caffeine can give your mood a lift, but what can it do for your clothing?
A lot, according to Lytess. Their caffeine-sewn pants promise to reduce fat on the hips and thighs, plus moisturize skin after three weeks' wear.
The product works on the principle of lymphatic drainage massage and the active ingredients are encapsulated with microcapsules, which are embedded in the fabric and released against contact with skin and the garment.
A spokesman for Lytess said that the leggings also help fight cellulite with diet and exercise.
“People are willing to try anything and some people like to have fun with experimenting… It is going to come down to the believability factor,” said Cohen.
PajamaJeans look like denim, but feel like pajamas.
The DormiSoft fabric used in this product contains a blend of spandex and cotton and looks like authentic jeans with its contrast stitching, pant-like flares, and brass rivets.
Easy to wear for a night out, but comfortable enough to wear to bed.