Wearable technology is a growing trend in the retail market these days. Although new to the consumer world, it has problems which are yet to be resolved. One of the common issues with wearables is that consumer electronics are often developed starting with technology and design is often considered afterwards. Unlike fitness and health devices, this approach is the key reason why most technology startups fail. When creating new wearables, the ideas usually come from day-to-day life and consumer interest should be a top priority when designing a product.
There have been a number of examples in fashion where technology has been applied to accessories or items of clothing, yet, there hasn’t been anything sensational which has resonated with a mass audience. Early examples included items like t-shirts and footwear that are able to send and receive Tweets on the user’s behalf. At first sight, it sounds impressive, although the actual benefits from receiving tweets to your shoes are questionable, especially if your phone is only in your pocket. When consumer experience can be changed significantly, that is when technology application truly works.
We are looking for something that doesn’t look like a piece of technology or a health/sports device which performs like regular contemporary fashion. Wearable technologies are not entirely about technology but something people would actually want to wear on a daily basis. It is not an easy task for a wearable to satisfy both aesthetic and functional interests. That is why the majority of the wearables' releases come from the fitness or communication space which don't usually require sophisticated aesthetic design.
Producing a wearable which is capable of ticking all the boxes, is something that the British clothes retailer Topshop is hoping to achieve in the near future. The company have launched a competition called Top Pitch to find startups who are capable of producing smart wearables which will be both aesthetic and functional. Participants will convene in a month-long boot camp this summer, polishing their pitches with the help of mentors. At the end of the program, the most promising team will be in with the chance to see their products in Topshop stores as well as securing equity investment.
It is not the first time that Topshop has demonstrated its interest in wearable technology. The brand has successfully introduced stickers, bracelets and key chains enabled with bPay technology, allowing customers to use their accessories for contactless payments in the UK.
In reference to Start Up world, there are many promising projects which are waiting to be noticed by big retailers. Among them is Stelle Audio, wireless audio speakers which aim to look as good as they sound. The brand took a mini-clutch bag and embedded high quality speakers. Founded in Newport Beach, California by the husband and wife team Anna Perelman and Wayne Ludlum, the company was built on the philosophy that there must be a union between form and function. The company believes that design conscious consumers have been underserved by the technology market and the lack of retailers that this market use carrying similar products.
Another point to bear in mind is the fact that people are becoming more aware of environmental issues and are willing to contribute by using eco-friendly products. According to the United States Energy Administration, the textile industry is the 5th largest contributor to CO2 emissions in the country and with some truly amazing innovations offering approaches that benefit both the earth and fashion this could change. Dying clothes with Air based dye rather than water is just one example. It is an effective way to save up to 75 gallons of water in the dying of one pound of fabric. Founded in California by Colorep, AirDye works as a die that is heat transferred from paper to fabric in a one-step process. The technology uses 85% less energy than traditional dying methods which clearly benefits manufacturers too.