Has wearable tech already gone out of style?
Only a few short years ago, the high profile launch of products like the Apple Watch seemed to be heralding a new era of fashionable, functional tech-integrated clothing. But wearables may have instead gone out of style before fully taking hold.
In discussing the recent launch of Apple’s streaming service, a New York Times article discusses the trend of wearable technology firmly in the past tense. Author Vanessa Friedman points to the 2014 launch of the Apple Watch as the height of the trend. The device’s release enjoyed significant coverage from the fashion press and coincided with Apple’s courting of former top fashion talent to fill C-suite slots. The device even had an unveiling at Paris Fashion Week, with many big names in attendance. Other vendors, like Samsung, also made appearances at Paris Fashion Week that year, and brands like Ralph Lauren began working on wired clothing and handbags. But many of the names associated with fashion/tech collaborations have moved away from each other.
Marketing professor Scott Galloway told the Times that, in tech and fashion, “The Venn overlap is not as great as anyone thought.”
While it may have been a while since the high fashion world last had its eye on Apple, there have been other big names in tech since 2014 that have experimented in other segments of the apparel world.
Google, for instance, partnered with Levi Strauss in 2017 to debut a “smart jean jacket” at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin, TX. The jacket featured integrated technology meant to suit the needs of bike commuters, such as the ability to answer phone calls and control music by tapping its sleeves.
There have been other moves such as the development of functional clothing with embedded technology to help improve the lives and degrees of mobility of the disabled.
It’s not clear, however, how much prototype wired clothing, fashionable or functional, has actually made it to market.
Even the once must-have health tracker Fitbit has drastically fallen off in popularity in recent years. On a positive note, the company did report its first quarterly sales increase since 2016 during the 2018 holiday season, according to Gadgets and Wearables.
- Is Apple Saying Goodbye to Fashion? – New York Times
- Fashion that wants to improve quality of life – RetailWire
- Fitbit device sales increase in Q4 for the first time since 2016 – Gadgets and Wearables
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why isn’t wearable technology as popular as the industry projected it would be? Do you see replacements coming for the wearable tech currently on the market and what will that look like?