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Smart Fabrics Summit attracts key industry participants

Recently, the US government and industry players gathered in Washington D.C. to discuss the ‘nascent smart fabrics market,’ as described by secretary of commerce Penny Pritzker, who moderated the final session at the one-day event. As per panelist at the Smart Fabrics Summit David Lauren, Executive VP of global marketing and communications for Ralph Lauren, in the fashion industry, people are looking for innovation; an opinion shared by Joshua Walden, senior vice president and general manger, New Technology Group, Intel. Walden admitted that at one time he couldn’t have imagined being on a panel about fabrics, but then he discovered that the description of smart fabrics closely matches what the New Technology Group is all about. This is in our DNA, Walden said, adding that the emerging market is ‘really exciting.’

Secretary Pritzker noted that the smart fabrics market was up 18 per cent last year to about $1.9 billion worldwide. The US claims $854 million of that, ‘playing a leading role,’ she added, stressing that the Dept. of Commerce is committed to helping in that effort by supporting entrepreneurs and bringing market participants together. IFAI president Mary Hennessy made a similar point, stressing that the organization’s role is bringing industry participants together and supporting their efforts to be successful.

The Summit was co-sponsored by IFAI with the Dept. of Commerce, which sent representatives from several of its offices to share their expertise with attendees. Business people representing markets from protective fabrics to conductive fibers to high fashion underscored the diversity inherent in the smart fabrics segment.