Can Smart Clothes be Fashionable? – With Romain Spinali, Head of Innovations at Spinali Design

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photo credit: Serge Nied

Spinali Design is a French company created in 2015 by Marie SPINALI and her husband Romain Spinali, specialized in smart clothes. Their first product was the Neviano, a connected swimsuit that allows the person to know when they need to put some sunscreen on.

In today’s interview with Romain Spinali, we are going to talk about connected swimsuit, fashion, market fit and sustainability.

Interview with Romain Spinali, head of innovations at Spinali Design
Photo credit : Serge Nied

S.C: What made you launch Spinali Design?

R.S : When my wife told me about this idea of a connected swimsuit, I thought it was a great idea. At the time, we were selling technological solutions to the real estate industry. It was a completely different challenge. 

The development of the swimsuit took about 4 months.

As soon as we launched it, the connected swimsuit almost immediately caught the eyes of the media and even the international press. American and Chinese media mentioned the Neviano.

S.C: So, fashion-wise, is there a market for Smart Clothes?

R.S : What we understood afterwards is that it’s a market in which you need to create a demand. No one really needs a swimsuit, unless you go to the sea, and even less a connected swimsuit. You need to create to create a desire for it. Same goes for dresses. 

Here’s an interesting statistic : in 2019, 1 out of 2 female clothing is worn less than 2 months. 

In other words, it’s all about frustration and nowadays, social media and mass marketing are building this frustration. Today, people are not buying a piece of clothing for its inner quality anymore but they are making purchases out of frustration and desire.

However, I think there is a true opportunity for smart clothes if you look at it, not with a fashion angle, but as a service-based accessory.

S.C: Can you develop your thoughts?

R.S : 5 years later, we now see a true opportunity for service-based pieces of clothing. Beyond the aesthetic, smart clothing can provide a service. And that gives a new meaning, new direction to the textile world.

We can definitely see it with our connected gloves. Our gloves are made with a fabric treated with titanium dioxide that can destroy microparticles, bad bacterias and viruses. Thanks to the photocatalysis principle, these gloves help people easily disinfect their hands.

The demand is actually higher than we can actually produce. Covid-19 definitely accelerated the need for change and the society’s transformation.

S.C: Since we are talking about transformation, what do you think of the growing importance of sustainable development in fashion? Can smart clothing be sustainable?

R.S: Smart clothes are made of fabrics and electronics. The electronic parts will last longer than the fabric. This being said, if you source eco-responsible and quality fabrics, the smart piece of clothing will last longer. 

On top of that, we believe in a circular economy. In other words, we give the possibility to buyers to recycle their gloves once they reach the end-of-life phase. When we receive the used gloves, we recycle them and transform them into new products.

S.C: According to you, what are the main challenges of this industry?

R.S: I think, for this industry to reach their full potential, we need to develop a second hand market for smart clothing. Just like a car, we must be able to sell smart clothing to a second-hand shop so that they can have another life. Of course, clothes need to be evaluated and resale prices should be fixed according to a certain price list.

If European cities and the state work together to build this second-hand market, Europe could become a leader in the market of service-based textile.

Many thanks Romain for answering our question on the smart clothing market. To learn more about Spinali design, feel free to visit their website, Spinali-design.fr .

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