Think of the term ‘wearable technology’, smart watches are probably the first thing that spring to mind. But is there more to wearable tech than just a mini phone or fitness tracker on your wrist?
Here we explore how high fashion is merging with advanced tech in some exciting new brand collaborations. We’ll also question the desirability of wearable tech in the fashion industry, and whether these products are truly innovative, or just an unnecessary gimmick.
IS SMART TECH THE FUTURE? Smart watches have come a long way since the bulky 1980’s ‘TV watch’ days. Luxury brands like Gucci, Tag Heuer, Fossil and even Swarovski are creating wristwear that envies the innovative Apple Watch, but in a much more fashion-forward way.
However, the most exciting and press-worthy development on the wearable tech market is Levi’s Commuter Jacket… it’s the jacket of the future.
This jacket was produced in collaboration with Jacquard, a new project by Google that allows touch and gesture sensitivity technology to be woven into a garment at the textile stage. The Commuter is a classic Levi’s trucker jacket, but it’s tailored towards the modern urban cyclist – so instead of reaching for your mobile phone, you can navigate and communicate straight from your sleeve. This idea certainly takes hands-free technology to the next level, and Levi’s effortless cool aesthetic combined with casual comfort makes this jacket actually, well, wearable.
REVIVING CLASSIC CONCEPTS Another high-tech development in the fashion world is Nike’s latest self-lacing sneakers. Remember the space age trainers Michael J Fox wore in Back to the Future II? Sadly, they didn’t work in real life, someone was pulling a lever behind the scenes for some seriously clever camera trickery. But 20 years on and Nike’s innovation department have made the self-lacing shoe dream come true with the new Nike Mags. These sneakers adapt to the wearer’s foot throughout the day, promoting extreme comfort and better athletic performance. But here’s fair warning, they could set you back around $100k at auction if you want to get your hands on a pair!
Google Glass is often cited as the key example of the marriage between high-end eyewear and mixed reality. Augmented meets virtual reality tech was basically a total failure. However, brands like Topshop and Ralph Lauren still continue to develop products that integrate fashion with technology, but for more everyday purposes, including contactless payments and fitness tracking.
STAY CONNECTED WITH YOUR OWN SMART BAG ‘Smart bags’ are another fresh fashion-meetstechnology innovation. In particular, the new Rebecca Minkoff handbag, which has built-in QR codes to connect to an app that’ll enhance your shopping experience. The first batch of smart bags comes as part of a limited edition run, but as of this summer, all of Minkoff’s handbags will be smart bags.
Buying one enrols you in Minkoff’s loyalty scheme, which offers access to private styling sessions and VIP events hosted by the brand. If you buy a limited edition bag, you’ll also be offered an invite to the latest Rebecca Minkoff runway show! Take any of the bags into a Minkoff store and, by scanning its QR code with an app on your phone, you’ll be able to use it in conjunction
with the other tech on the shop floor. Bring one of these beautiful bags elsewhere – well, to one of Minkoff’s partner locations – and you’ll be awarded little perks like discounts. The premise being that, by carrying a smart bag, you’ll stay better connected to the world around you.
HAVE YOUR SAY In fashion, aesthetic versus function has long been a delicate balance; from killer heels and super mini handbags to cut-away jackets and oversized fringing, we desire beautiful things that usually serve no practical purpose. Perhaps the concept of wearable technology helps to bridge this gap. But will consumers ever truly covet a GPS jacket or wifi watch as much as a handcrafted leather clutch or little black dress?