Why Fashion Brands Don’t Understand Biomimicry

(and three shifts they’re missing)

Table of Contents

While most fashion brands are spending energy on retail and digital concerns as well as brand accessibility, many are leaving an innovative technology on the table: biomimicry. Often a “nice-to-have” component of sports and utility fashion, biomimicry products are finding their way merging into today’s function-forward preference in fashion and design. 

What is biomimicry, and what does it have to do with clothes?

Biomimetics (or biomimicry) is the emulation of the models, systems and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. In this case, it’s also the application of biologically-based architecture, structures, textures and visuals to fashion. While some may consider this a bit high-brow in application to creating a stylish garment, its adoption and success has proven appealing to customers and has made technological innovation in fashion a hot topic to follow. 

 

 

Still aren’t sure what this means? Camouflage is a great example of using biomimicry to incorporate functional features into apparel by simply replicating nature. Formerly used primarily in performance and sports/hunting apparel, the camo pattern is now considered a staple in fashion, serving not only as a utility to disguise appearance in nature, but also as go-to pattern and style for many different types of clothes and accessories. Other common biomimicry applications to fashion include velcro, swim gear and clothing dye. 

Is there such a thing as too much innovation?

Some critics argue that going to lengths to hire scientists, technologists and biologists to inform their fashion design may be a little too much innovation. Where do designers and fashion houses draw the line on charging a standard rate for a clothing item, versus incorporating a premium for unique concepts and design?

 

We encourage you to consider the marketing options available to you if you had an all-terrain jacket that morphed with the weather, or drag-reduction components in your sports or swimming gear. Imagine your stylish winter line with thermo-regulated materials that are not only fashionable, but build lighter-weight garments! The possibilities are endless in setting apart your products when bringing an open-mind to the design table. 

The growth of science in fashion is here to stay​

Like every industry, the incorporation of science and data and its incorporation in fashion is not going anywhere anytime soon. Biomimicry is considered to be increasingly important in performance and utility apparel with the growing frequency of extreme weather events and challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and in evolving protective wear with our military and service community

As movement-oriented brands utilize smarter fabrics, construction and durability in their pieces, the expectation for influence on general fashion is great. 

Takeaways

  • Biomimicry is an evolving technology that holds tremendous potential for inspiring further sustainable products and technologies. 
  • While still evolving, investing in the application of tested biological technologies to fashion is a way to set yourself apart from the market, especially outside of the performance fashion space. 
  • Consumers are constantly evolving into smarter buyers with more need for ROI and utility in their fashion purchases. Incorporating tried-and-true concepts to your wardrobe is here to stay.


By showing the value of adaptation in the fashion space outside of more technical-oriented apparel, there’s immense opportunity to set yourself apart from the market and
future-proof your business. 

Want more?

Thanks for reading! I’m Sarah Sharif, Senior Manager at Board of Innovation. Reach out to me on LinkedIn to share your thoughts on this article, find out more about my work, or to arrange a time to chat about your experience with biomimicry (or me mountain-hiking in biologically enhanced winter gear).

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