Wearable technology designer and researcher Joanna Berzowska wrote a paper that is a great introduction to smart textiles titled Electronic Textiles: Wearable Computers, Reactive Fashion, and Soft Computation (pdf).
Abstract "Electronic textiles, also referred to as smart fabrics, are quite fashionable right now. Their close relationship with the field of computer wearables gives us many diverging research directions and possible definitions. On one end of the spectrum, there are pragmatic applications such as military research into interactive camouflage or textiles that can heal wounded soldiers. On the other end of the spectrum, work is being done by artists and designers in the area of reactive clothes: 'second skins' that can adapt to the environment and to the individual. Fashion, health, and telecommunication industries are also pursuing the vision of clothing that can express aspects of people’s personalities, needs, and desires or augment social dynamics through the use and display of aggregate social information."