Can Fashion Make Wearable Tech Wearable?

As technology (accessories and platforms) becomes more ingrained into our everyday lifestyles, fashion houses and tech companies are the next inevitable creative collaborations. The two industries have yet to find the winning combination that yields the same internet hype, long lines and wait lists that we’ve seen with other collaborations such as Missoni x Target and Karl Lagerfeld x H&M.

Case in point – the latest fashion meets tech flop: Google Glass. On paper, Google Glass seemed like a 21st century dream, albeit a surprisingly costume-y one. The glasses were coined “wearable” tech, yet no one at all was really interested in wearing them. Google’s obvious solution? Turn to the fashion industry experts, who consistently make innovation look desirable, covetable and trendy. Ultimately, putting the hands-free glasses on the faces of fashion mavens, including designer Diane von Furstenberg, and launching them on a New York Fashion Week runway, wasn’t enough to make a case for sporting Google Glass in public.

It became evident that technology needs to seamlessly transition into lifestyle; similar to the shift we’re already seeing in the activewear market. While consumers want innovation and groundbreaking technological advances — they certainly don’t want their accessories to <i>look</i> it. It’s not enough for a cami to be supportive enough for yoga. Sure, it’ll make it through an hour of vinyasa, but can you wear it from your 2 o’clock meeting to drinks later that night?

That’s where fashion’s lofty role in the wearable tech market lies. Designers will be taking a new level of involvement – one that branches out beyond Armani designing devices for Samsung, or Lanvin and Burberry smartphone cases – to make wearable tech marketable.  The key may be less about making tech stylish and more about incorporating technology into the silhouettes and styles consumers already love. Tory Burch’s new Fitbit accessories and Withings’s new Activité watch (endorsed by former Glass advocate, Nina Garcia) are a step in the right direction – something traditionally “wearable” housing (read: concealing) the tech-y aspects.

With fashion and tech collaborations like Opening Ceremony/Intel and Net-a-sporter/Jawbone on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how this all becomes a reality. In the meantime, I’ll stick with the laborious touch screen smartphones we haul around all day long until they figure out how to transfer Google Glass’s capabilities into my pair of aviators.

-Erica Smith

Image via Business of Fashion

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