Tech Take Off

Move over Google Glass and [maybe] iWatch – there’s new competition in town for wearable technology. Members of the fashion community plan on revealing (or in some cases, already have revealed) cutting edge technology in their Spring 2015 runway shows this past week. Designers such as Tory Burch, Rebecca Minkoff, Ralph Lauren, and Opening Ceremony are making strides the rather unexplored territory that is known as wearable technology.

Having showed already at New York Fashion Week, Rebecca Minkoff wowed her young starlet crowd with 3D prints (complete with 3D glasses to go along with it) as well as a phone charger bracelet. Minkoff put the 3D print looks as the last five in her spring collection and had the models wear 3D glasses to indicate that the crowd should be wearing them too go get the full effect of the look. Minkoff is releasing two bracelets – a metal chain one (below) that pairs over Bluetooth so the wearer can be notified of incoming calls and texts, while a leather one doubles as a phone charger. The metal one is priced at $120 and the leather one at $60. According to Minkoff, her collection was inspired by late fashion photographer Deborah Turbeville, who was known for turning the art form into something much more avant-garde. Nowadays, fashion shows during fashion week are major spectacles, and this was one of the most innovative shows. If you have a 3D movie, why can’t you have a 3D fashion show? That’s exactly what Minkoff did, something no other fashion show has offered before.

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Minkoff’s tech bracelet that alerts the wearer of calls and texts (thecut.com)
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One of Minkoff’s 3D prints and the model wearing 3D glasses (style.com)

Watch Minkoff’s S/S 2015 show here

Tory Burch made an interesting collaboration with Fitbit, a wireless workout device that can track anything from miles run to calories burned. Burch designed three different styles: two brass pendants at two different price points ($175 and $195 respectively) as well as a $38 version in her own signature print. Burch delved into the wearable technology market for an opportunity to bring some fashion to the Fitbit wristband to transform it into a stylish piece of jewelry that can transition from the gym to the streets effortlessly. The device will be sold both on her website as well as on Fitbit.

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Burch’s silicone Fitbit bracelet design featuring her signature print (thecut.com)

Ralph Lauren embraced the idea of nanotechnology for his latest collection of wearable technology for athletic wear that debuted at the U.S. Open on the tennis ball boys. The new “bio sensing garment” is responsible for being able to monitor your heart rate and respiration. The technology is woven through the shirt, so it gets as deep down as the production process. There is also a small box woven in that can transmit to your phone for easy access on the data the shirt collects. This idea has inspired many students and designers to try their hand at incorporating technology into pieces of clothing and accessories, giving them functions such as pre-programmed messages, and music capabilities all built in either wirelessly or by the touch of a single button.

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Lauren’s “bio sensing garment” that debuted at the U.S. Open (nytimes.com)

Opening Ceremony (who is showing exactly as I’m writing this post) has partnered with Intel to created My Intelligent Communication Accessory (or MICA for short), a female fashion accessory that will allow the wearer to receive text message alerts, meeting alerts, notifications along with other functions delivered straight to the wrist. The device will be shown on the runway for the Spring 2015 shows, but go on sale at Barney’s this holiday season. Interestingly enough, the wearable technology market is becoming a huge segment of Intel’s production, even over the demand for computers. Between 2013 and 2018, it is predicted that technology especially for that industry will jump astronomically.

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Debut photos of MICA, Open Ceremony’s communication accessory (hothardware.com)

A theory as to why wearable tech is just now gaining popularity among designers could be that since we now have the technology capabilities to create small enough pieces of technology to be woven into garments, it allows designers to attempt designing clothing and accessories because they can make something intelligent but also beautiful as well. While technology is still evolving every day, it is at the point to where we can experiment with creating pieces that have these features because of the size and convenience of the technology.

Wearable tech is where those in the industry would call the “introduction” stage, being shown on the runways, set at a higher price point with a designer label. It might be a few years before this trend hits the mass market stage, but it is no doubt being predicted by companies such as Intel and Forbes to have a strong take off between now and 2018. In order for it to hit the mass market stage without it being a passing phase, is for the design to be something beautiful and for the technology to not be gimmicky. It is speculated that Minkoff’s pieces – the chain bracelet and the leather bracelet – aren’t too pricy for it carrying the designer name and stray from the gimmicky technology while still remaining fashion-forward. This article from Forbes sums it up perfectly – while the fashion industry is getting involved, it doesn’t mean that the concept is ready to hit the mass market just yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not too far off from catching on.

 

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