An Exploration of Textile Innovation: The Latest Materials Breakthrough

At CELLIANT®, the subject of ingredient branding reigns top of mind. As a textile ingredient brand ourselves, we know firsthand what goes into a successful ingredient brand partnership, and the value that materials innovation can bring to brands, customers and the industry as a whole.

The primary reason for ingredient brands to exist is to provide an innovation or technology to other brands to make their products better and to make people’s lives better. Ingredient brands provide a valuable commodity for other businesses, such as Intel, a maker of computer chips that are used by IBM, among others, or Gore-Tex, the leading waterproof fabric technology in the textile industry. 

To become a valuable ingredient brand, with consumer recognition, the ingredient brand must deliver truly innovative technology. This is where the textile industry has been lacking for the past several decades, and is where we need to look if we’re to have some insight into the future of textile innovation. 

Let’s dive into the history of truly innovative ingredient brands that made an impact, the state of innovation in textiles today and then look ahead to what the future holds in terms of innovation that’s analogous to those historical successes.

Textile Ingredient Innovation Throughout History

When we look at examples of ingredient brands creating innovative breakthroughs throughout the textile industry, one consistency stands out. Most are not from this century. The latter half of the 20th century brought a wave of textile innovation that was focused on delivering physical benefits that as supported consumers priorities and trends towards an outdoor, active lifestyle, such as durability, breathability and heat retention.


Nylon, invented by DuPont, is an important synthetic fiber that’s had a major impact on the world. DuPont is a massive company whose other textile brands feature heavily in this rundown of ingredient brand innovations, but we’ll start in the 1930s with nylon. Extremely versatile, nylon is used in everything from stockings to toothbrushes and is known for being smooth, strong, tough, and durable as well as relatively lightweight. Nylon is also resistant to mold, resisting water and drying quicker than most natural fibers.  


Lycra, the brand name of elastane, and also a Dupont company, is an innovation breakthrough in textiles. Lycra is known for its stretch, comfort and synergy with athletics. Lycra is an ingredient in the fabrics of many brands, including Lululemon, Levi’s and Alo. Lycra has had an incredible and lasting impact on activewear, athleisure wear and everyday fashion due to the popularity of spandex fabrics.


Polartec has been around for over 100 years, but we mention them in this article for the textile breakthrough they are most known for: the modern synthetic fleece they created in 1981. Polartec fleece is renowned for its ability to repel water and retain warmth while being breathable and lightweight. Polartec is ideal for outdoor wear and works with many world-class brands like Helly Hanson, Supreme and Under Armour.


Often held up as the ultimate example of a textile ingredient brand, Gore-Tex is an innovation breakthrough mainly in waterproof and water-repellent fabrics. So well-known and trusted is Gore-Tex for its technology that it is one of the very few ingredient brands that consumers ask for by name.  

Where Will the Next Breakthrough in Textile Innovation Come From?

The ingredient brands discussed above, such as Lycra, Polartec and Gore-Tex, and their innovations, are still in business, still excellent, and still growing. But, much of what we’re seeing in modern textiles is micro-innovations: a slightly stretchier fabric, for example, or one that is more quick-drying — there hasn’t been a major, gamechanging breakthrough in a long time. 


Several factors contribute to this shift, such as the emphasis on fast fashion as brands capitalize on today’s fast-paced society and social media culture. When brands are stuck on the hamster wheel of keeping up with trends, there is no space to develop something truly cutting-edge. 

This innovation disconnect left the textile industry ripe for evolution. But what does the future of textiles look like? 

When looking to the next innovative breakthrough, we need to consider the history (as we’ve done) and other factors that influence the trends in the textile industry. Let’s look at the following considerations: an increasing consumer focus on wellness and commonalities between innovative breakthroughs.  


Past breakthroughs in textiles have been focused on improved functionality of fibers as fibers — making them stronger, more flexible or quicker drier than other fibers. We all enjoy better fabrics, but we seem to have hit a saturation point in fiber innovation. Quick-drying, for example, is now simply table stakes in any athletic garment. It’s no longer a differentiator.  

One thing we know for sure about the modern consumer is that they are interested in, and willing to pay more, for innovative materials that go above and beyond in terms of performance. This means an innovation that could add other functions, such as personal wellness, on top of the expected function of the fiber. With the wellness industry projected to reach $8.5 trillion by 2027, there is ample opportunity for textile innovators to fill a need in this space.


Though we need to be aware of consumer attitudes, one aspect of innovation that can be a bit complex is that when a true breakthrough happens, it isn’t always to fill a consumer demand. After all, how can people want something they don’t even know exists or is possible yet? That’s where innovative visionaries come in.  

Think of Apple, which is perhaps the most famous, and obvious, example. Before the iPhone (and even after it debuted) most people wouldn’t have thought putting a camera and a phone together was a good idea — never mind demanding it. Nor would they have demanded a touch screen. Apple, of course, saw the bigger picture. Cameras were just one of the first things to be bundled with the phone, they weren’t going to stop there, and touch screens were simply better, more flexible, user interfaces (sorry Blackberry). 

The lesson? No one demanded the iPhone before it was invented. Now few people who have one can imagine living without it. This is important to keep in mind when thinking of textile innovation. While there is an evidenced desire for wellness products (in fact, 60% of wellness spending is on products that can improve health), host brands and ingredient brands have an opportunity to work together to introduce new wellness solutions to the market altogether.

Bio-responsive Infrared Fabrics: A Textile Technology Breakthrough

We know consumers are interested in wellness and that true innovation creates its own demand. To create that demand, innovations must provide additive functions that help people, or give people more in their life.  

Bio-responsive textiles do exactly that. A bio-responsive textile is a textile that interacts with, and influences, human physiology. As the wellness industry continues to skyrocket, a fabric that has the ability to positively impact the physiology of a person is the textile innovation breakthrough that we have been waiting for.

Bio-responsive textiles are still emerging, meaning customers may not yet realize the impact that this textile solution can have when incorporated into their daily lives. By partnering with established and science-backed materials science innovators, brands can add credibility to their technical product lines. Just look at CELLIANT, an ingredient brand that offers infrared textile technology.


CELLIANT transforms textile products into bio-responsive infrared fabrics that offer numerous wellness benefits. A mix of naturally occurring minerals chosen for their unique properties, CELLIANT is an ultra-fine powder that is embedded into the fibers and yarns themselves or printed onto fabrics. 

These minerals capture escaping body heat, convert it to infrared light and emit that infrared light back into the body. This causes the body to have a physiological reaction of increasing local circulation and improving cellular oxygenation. And these positive changes result in a number of wellness benefits, such as improved strength, endurance and stamina, better sleep, and faster recovery from physical activity. We like to think of it as ‘passive wellness’ as people get wellness benefits from simply wearing clothes, cuddling with blankets or sleeping on mattresses infused with CELLIANT.  

CELLIANT-powered wellness fabrics are a leap towards a future where all textile products are health and wellness products, no matter the application or category. We see this as a true innovation that can help forward-thinking brands differentiate their products and, most importantly, have a positive impact on people’s overall well-being.

Learn How CELLIANT Can Help Your Products Stand Apart

CELLIANT infrared is an incredibly flexible innovation with applications across many industries. We’re well positioned to become the next breakthrough innovation as we work toward our vision to energize the world by bringing infrared into people’s lives and spaces.

Get in touch with our team by filling out the form below. We’d love to discuss how our technology can make your textile products even better for your consumers.