Smart Fabrics Summit Announcement

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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to Moderate Business Leaders Panel and First-Ever Smart Fabrics Summit

Panelists include David Lauren, Executive Vice President of Ralph Lauren, Josh Walden, Senior Vice President of Intel, and Mary Hennessy, President and CEO of Industrial Fabrics Association International

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was announced as the moderator for a panel of senior level business leaders for the Smart Fabrics Summit on April 11, 2016. The Summit, hosted by the Department of Commerce and the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), will provide a forum for public and private sector leaders in technology, apparel, and textiles to highlight recent developments in the smart fabrics industry, identify opportunities for collaboration, and discuss key industry challenges. Secretary Pritzker will be joined by David Lauren, Executive Vice President of Ralph Lauren, Josh Walden, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Intel, and Mary Hennessy, President and CEO of Industrial Fabrics Association International.

“As America’s Innovation Agency, the Department of Commerce plays a unique role in facilitating greater collaboration between the public and private sectors on emerging technologies,” said Secretary Pritzker. “Working together, we can spur advancements and address challenges with respect to new industries such as smart fabrics. I am proud that the Department will serve as a partner in this event that showcases new smart fabrics technology, inspires partnership among industry leaders, and encourages the creation of manufacturing jobs in the U.S.”

Recent advances in technology have brought together the apparel, technology, and textile industries to develop new capabilities in fabrics with the potential to change how athletes, patients, soldiers, first responders, and everyday consumers interact with their clothes and other textile products. Known as ‘smart fabrics’, these new high-tech products have the capability to interact with their user or environment, including tracking and communicating data about their wearer or environment to other devices through embedded sensors and conductive yarns.

The applications for this new technology are broad, with most smart fabric product development seen in the fields of defense, fitness, health, and public safety. The world market for smart clothing is projected to grow from a base of $17.2 million in 2013 to approximately $600 million by 2020, according to research firm Tractica LLC.

“Ralph Lauren has a long history and commitment to being a leader in innovation, merging technology and fashion in a way that excites and enhances the lifestyle of our customer,” said David Lauren, Executive Vice President, Global Advertising, Marketing, and Communications for Ralph Lauren. “The introduction of the PoloTech shirt is just the beginning for us in how the brand can incorporate smart fabrics in products that profoundly impact the way we live our daily lives.”

“The miniaturization of computing and Moore’s Law is enabling the integration of smaller and more powerful technology across apparel, footwear, accessories – including fabrics,” said Josh Walden, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Intel’s New Technology Group. “At Intel, we continue to invest in future technologies and in new market segments and believe there is great promise in adding intelligence to what we wear. The potential to improve our health, safety and comfort with wearable technology is truly exciting.”

“The practical applications resulting from the marriage of textiles and conductive technologies are virtually unlimited,” said Mary Hennessey, President and CEO of IFAI. “The high-tech fabrics produced by our member companies are helping to create new product possibilities all over the world. This is a vital growth market for textiles.”

For more information about attending or sponsoring the Summit, please visit Smart Fabrics Summit Website.