If you cast your mind back to the Rio Olympics, big brands like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour, were not being shy about putting their best tech foot forward. Scaling technology to deliver greater performance and innovation, we all remember how Nike hit the headlines with Nike Zoom Superfly Flyknit track spike that they designed and created for sprinter Allyson Felix, using rapid 3D prototyping. We loved the fact that they did not stop there, Nike also came up with a cooling hood prototype for decathlete Ashton Eaton and a Nike football Rebento duffle bag that was made with a 3D-printed base.
Ralph Lauren On Performance And Innovation
Ralph Lauren’s tech parka and bomber jacket are the most talked about in the fashion technology space this week. Designed for Team USA and officially part of the team’s Winter Olympic uniform, the jackets have been created using a heat-conducting ink that generates warmth, kind of like an electric blanket. Instead of wires or coils sewn into the fabric, the heat comes through a special type of carbon and silver ink bonded to the jacket lining. The ink conducts heat in the same way a wire would and connects to a small battery pack sewn into the garment. When fully charged, the jacket itself stores up to 11 hours of heating time.
“Designed to withstand temperatures as cold as 20 below zero, Lauren said that the top priority in designing the uniform was keeping the athletes warm.”
On balancing national pride with technical needs, David Lauren, the company’s chief innovation officer said, “We’re looking back and celebrating what’s iconic and symbolic of America, and merging that with where we’re headed.” Adding, “The frontiers of the 1800s and 1900s, between the jeans and the gloves, and then the frontier of today, which is technology.”
One of the smart features is that athletes are able to adjust the temperature up or down through a smartphone app. Designed to withstand temperatures as cold as 20 below zero, Lauren said that the top priority in designing the uniform was keeping the athletes warm. This is a must, since temperatures in PyeongChang, South Korea are expected to hover around 15 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the kind of jacket that can cope with a cold snap or a sudden warmer temperature than predicted.
Working with different kinds of fabrics, the Ralph Lauren design team decided to turn to technology to help improve their initial concept, and the result was a new heat-conductive jacket that everyone is talking about. Excited as everyone is, the Olympic jackets are not the first tech products that the American design label has experimented with. Previously they came up with solar-powered backpacks and athletic shirts with built-in activity trackers. Then in 2016 Olympics, Ralph Lauren created a blazer with electroluminescent panels for torch-bearer Michael Phelps and debuted a new type of “smart shirt” for the 2014 US Open.
Hoping to present a future product that has the same type of conductive ink Lauren confided, “Our hope is that we’ll learn enough that we’ll be able to go into production with a different, limited edition jacket for this fall.” I guess this means that what’s good for the Olympic team might also be good for the American public and beyond.