To look at the messenger bag, hoody and that gingham shirt of the average start-up worker, Silicon Valley really has valued function over fashion over the years. Not so, these days- 2014 has seen style and tech fused like never before, as digital stalwarts from Apple to Intel race to collaborate with the fashion world’s brightest. And, with NY-based firm CB Insights tracking a massive $1.4 billion of investment into wearable start-ups over the past 5 years – around $500 million of which was doled out in 2014 – the rest of this year and beyond is shaping up to be a retail landscape game changer.
So who are the need-to-know pioneers on the fashion x tech frontier? The Apple Watch, revealed last month, has set the bar high for covetable wearables. Smaller start-ups looking to move into the business of fashion, though, should be taking notes from more than just its high-tech specs and sleek personalisation – perhaps most savvy was the way it was rolled out. The Cupertino launch capitalised on the energy of NYFW – even convincing big fashion names like Natalie Massanet to skip the shows altogether to get a sneak peek – and later hosted a Colette takeover, attended by Karl and Anna, on the penultimate day of Paris Fashion Week. Elsewhere on the wearable scene, Intel and Opening Ceremony’s MICA – short for My Intelligent Communication Accessory – will launch this winter. The bracelet fuses luxury semi-precious stones with a 1.6-inch sapphire touch screen, but you’ll have to wait until December to find out what exactly its “communication capabilities” are.
With bold statements from fashion and tech’s biggest fish, the fear might set in as to whether smaller start-ups can break into the market in 2015. As our NYC global summit will demonstrate on November 18-19, the opportunities in wearables for retailers are huge – and far more tangible than you might first suppose. Industry movers and shakers who will be speaking on wearable innovations over the weekend include Lauren Sherman (editor and strategist at Fashionista), Matthew Woolsey (EVP of Digital at Barneys) and Amy Puliafito of wearable computing company Misfit. The latter company, specializing in stylish fitness and sleep monitors, combines affordability and style with every design: a combination that, though worlds away from the luxury vibe of more news-worthy designs of late, looks ahead to just how wearable wearable tech will be in 2015.
Reported by Claire Healy