Why the new next big fashion brand could be about wearable tech

28/09/17

Adding cutting-edge technologies and practicality in a compact format already known to consumers, wearables of all kinds have been gaining ground in the market and are seen as a trend and great bet by many manufacturers and important brands of the fashion world.  

Although the term ‘wearable’ already gives clues as to how these devices work, the nomenclature leaves out some important details. The technology in question can not only can be use as a garment or accessory, but must also have features that connect it to other devices or to the internet.

The alliance between technology and fashion industry is not recent: we have been accompanying the development of clothing, footwear and accessories for many years that carry research hours and lots of added technology. Despite this, in recent times, advances have gained more and more space within the brands and new items are released to each collection. An example of it is Ralph Lauren, a brand that is present in the most relevant Fashion Weeks worldwide, in partnership with the company OMsignal has launched a shirt able to read biometric information in real time.

According to a survey conducted by Nielsen, a total of 339k Neo Zealanders over 15 years old owned at least one wearable device, a number that doubled (+93%) in just 12 months. Considering that the country has a population around 4,7 million people, this number is a sign of how much important this devices are, seen as “a status symbol, a motivational fitness piece and a functional gadget, all in only one device”.

Nielsen also says that “owners of wearable devices are a profitable consumer group. Brands can connect directly with them ‘on-the-go’, reaching them regardless of where they are, with or without their smartphone, tablet, etc. (…) Wearable devices represent a new way for brands to influence their consumers. “

Levi’s, another brand with significant participation in the fashion industry launched its smart jacket, named Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket in September. It has cyclists as the target audience and the idea is to use it along with headphones plugged into the smartphone. The jacket comprises four gestures and the configuration is made through an app on the smartphone. The piece uses the Jacquard solution, developed by Google, for connected clothing. It has sewn on it’s sleeve a special fabric, with electronic microphones capable of detecting the user’s gestures and passing the information to a connected cufflink. This cufflink, in turn, communicates through bluetooth with the user’s smartphone, be it Android or Iphone. The button also sends some notifications to the user through an LED light and small vibrations.

In the US, Apple still stands as the main brand for smartwatch purchases, taking 50% of the market (more than the 24% of the market share that the brand had in the third quarter of 2016). Following it is Samsung, representing 17.4% of smartwatch sales in the last quarter of 2016. In 2015 Apple launched a premium line from its Apple Watch in partnership with an iconic French brand Hermès, a collection with three items, called Single Tour, Double Tour and Cuff, the smartwatches have Hermès iconography and differentiated wristbands.

It is evident  that the fashion market will pass through a great change, our clothes, shoes and accessories will no longer be seen as commodities and will have service status, similar to the way applications are developed and sold today.
This approach makes it possible for fashion articles to take on a new role in the marketing world by increasing the number of channels and further narrowing the timing of communication.