Wearable technology — or most commonly referred to as wearables — are smart electronic devices that can be worn on the body as accessories or clothing. For a few years now wearable technology has been the tech industry’s favourite buzz word. Everybody has been excited about the endless possibilities. Yet, a few years later and the excitement appears to be dying down. There are certainly aspects of the industry that are successfully pushing clothing and accessories with technological capabilities. However it appears that the general public aren’t that interested. Why is this?
Photo by Opening Ceremony
Why did it happen?
Brands noticed that by combining technological aspects into their products, they add additional value and purpose to said product. The Apple Watch or the FitBit gives consumers the ability to understand the effects of their everyday movements. Which ultimately advances the function of the everyday watch. The campaign image above shows the collaboration between contemporary brand Opening Ceremony with technology manufacturer Intel. The aim was to create a product that would not only appeal to both brands’ target audience but also create a new market. On paper this sounds like the perfect idea. No-one can deny that the product are more often than not aesthetically. Yet still the wider public are refusing to bite. Each season we hear of brands — new and established — are pushing to create textile-based fashion and clothes that could provide dual purpose to the wearer, and the concept itself is appealing. So, why aren’t we all regularly wearing these smart clothes?
Photo by Zach Balbino
Why hasn’t it completely taken off?
Independently, these two industries are complex in their own nature and merging them together creates different issues to look at. As buyers of fashion products, we initially look for purpose i.e. for something to do it’s job and then most regularly we look for something to look and feel appealing. When we talk about buying technological products that we can wear, we are adding a new purpose to the equation, which ultimately raises another question. We need to decide: what do we want our clothes to do besides cover our bodies?
Successful brands like Adidas have attempted these creations but have consequently decided to stop. The sports brand announced in December 2017 that they will not be focusing on creating a new running watch. However, similarly Nike’s longstanding relationship with Apple proved to be a fruitful move for both companies.
Apple Watch Nike+ GPS Series 3, £329.00 Nike nike.com
If fashion brands decide to take the leap to creating wearables, they need to decide what the added value will be and put that across to us. As consumers we want functional clothes, that can be smart if the purpose boosts its function. With function in mind we need to look towards the future and see where we think clothing can take us.
Brands like Milwaukee that have created coats with warming capabilities are understanding the idea. The brand has taken the concept that we wear coats to be warm and have solved it with technology.
Large Black Premium Heated Jacket, £135.00 Milwaukee milwaukeepowertools.co.uk
Where is it going?
Brands should be tapping into the needs of customers and designing a product or clothing from there that will be appealing and necessary. Innovation in fabrics and textiles proves to be a major trend, with brands looking for sustainability within production. With the advancements in AI its not too far-fetched to say that we will soon be able to control our clothing with voice control. What wearables would make your life easier? Comment below. Personally I’d love a wearable intelligent personal assistant similar to Amazon Alexa – or is that just me?