As scientists continue to research how to viably integrate graphene technology into everyday products, we are beginning to see how the wonder material might affect particular industries. One such area that graphene is beginning to enter is that of fashion and clothing, and its incorporation could lead to stronger insulation and better protection against the elements, all the while being more comfortable and breathable than any other conventional textile.
Clothing company Volleback has developed one of the first graphene jackets. It took years of research for the founders, working closely with the same material scientists who developed Michael Phelps’ record-breaking Olympic swimsuit.
To develop the jacket, graphene nanoplatelets are created and then blended with polyurethane to create a graphene membrane, which is what makes up one side of the jacket. This membrane is then bonded to nylon, completing the jacket. Not only does the graphene membrane itself contain impressive qualities, but it also strengthens the nylon’s properties. This seems to be the right step for Volleback, as most working graphene products are achieved through compositing graphene with other materials.
The graphene-formed outerwear is reversible, and can have different effects depending on which way the graphene is facing. When facing outward, the graphene membrane absorbs and stores heat from the sun. Since it retains that heat, reversing the graphene membrane will allow it to directly heat the wearer’s body. The jacket distributes heat evenly over the body and its even disperses body humidity. The jacket is considered bacteriostatic, hypoallergenic, anti-static, and certified as non-toxic, according to Volleback’s website. As people purchase and use the graphene jacket, Volleback’s founders hope that new applications of the graphene jacket can be uncovered, which will give them additional ways to improve their product.
But the graphene jacket isn’t the only form of fashion that has gotten attention. In particular, sportswear companies have had the most interest in the material. Its insulation and conductivity make it perfect for winter jackets or even t-shirts that can help athletes withstand the cold. Graphene-infused shoes are also being researched, and some claim that graphene can improve the durability of the rubber sole by 50%.
As is the case with fashion, graphene has also been utilized aesthetically, which just goes to show how universally appealing its wide array of qualities are. Fashion company CuteCircuit has developed the first graphene dress, using graphene composites to conduct low levels of electricity through the garment. It then uses graphene-enhanced sensors to detect breathing patterns, and LED lights change the dress’ color based on breathing patterns. Graphene’s appeal to fashion is a unique one, not only allowing for technological advancements, but aesthetic ones as well.
Graphene fashion, like any other field that is developing uses for the material, is still in its infancy. But the important thing is that scientists have already discovered that it is possible to use. The only obstacles to overcome include working out graphene’s kinks and finding a way to make it widely available so graphene products can be mass-produced for everyone to benefit from.