Wearable technology, as defined by innovative pieces put on the body to look good and/or function well, has been an integral part of our societal progress that has progressed slowly and steadily longer than any other field. But there are 3 major ways wearable tech will change by 2026; the change of the fabrics we have available, the expansion of electronics in everyday clothing, and body scanning to produce perfect fit clothes.
First, fabric. Wearable technology in a more broad sense importantly includes spandex, lycra, polyester, and knitting, sewing, and surging machines. Which have made phenomenal strides in increasing the wearability, and more specifically comfort, of everything we put on our body. Right now, we are adding to the list of textiles with the help of technology, which could also be called wearable technology. These consist of innovative uses of plant material and creative ways of reusing other exiting materials. They are also being expanded to include electronically powered textiles, for example, the fiber optic dress seen at this past year's Met Gala. By 2026, the cost of creating more natural fibers will all be on par with silk or will be lab created. We will need all the growing space needed coproduce cottons and linens will need to be devoted to growing the food not able to be created in a lab or housing. Most other textiles will be recycled to reduce the environmental impact of the clothing.
Wearable technology so much as it exclude everything but items powered by or including electronics so far has existed only in accessories (see histories here and here) or what I like to call “body caps” (shoes cap your feet, gloves cap your hands, hats cap your head, glasses are caps for your eyes…). The technology we have available - namely sensors and lights - will soon be available in a small enough form that they will be able to be sewn into clothing as simply and unobtrusively as piping or bias tape today. This will allow us to have sensors to measure athletes, or people with cardiovascular conditions, or simply add lights to night wear for safety or fashion. These will only become a part of tech once we are able to have far superior waterproofing and flexible electronics and batteries.
The third avenue of wearable tech that will likely be the least developed by 2026, likely only available to the upper class at first but then pollinating all stores, is body scanning. The body scanning will be used to perfectly fir clothing to you, either by electronic seamstresses or printed clothing. This will replace the couture (but not haute couture) and tailoring industries, but leave space for designers to become more inventive than every with style. This will usher in personal style designers, who might have otherwise worked for fashion houses. For the upper class, it will be like wedding dress shopping, but soon it will available at the 2026 equivalent of H&M or Zara.