wearables

Decoded Fashion - NYFW FW16 Tech
Image source: Wareable

Earlier this week, it was announced that the next exhibit to grace the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute will be entitled ‘Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.’ Was this a sign of a very tech-focused New York Fashion Week to come? As usual, there was plenty of innovation on the city’s runways for AW16, from Intel’s clever Curie Module to interesting fashion-meets-fitness collaborations.

Coach and Google reconsider the live stream

Fans who didn’t make it to the benches of Coach’s runway show were, of course, able to live stream it from the comfort of their homes – but this live stream took things up a gear. Coach used Google Cardboard to create an immersive streaming experience for its fans, with 360-degree video offering up the opportunity to watch the brand’s FW16 show in more detail than ever before. While Topshop was the first brand to use virtual reality to to live stream its runway show last year, Coach is the first brand to have done it using Google Cardboard. Those wishing to get a piece of the action either had to pick up a pair of Coach-branded Cardboard ‘binoculars’ in their nearest Coach store, or simply request a set to be sent to them via Instagram or Snapchat.

Fast-track to the front row

Over recent seasons, Tommy Hilfiger has become something of pioneer for fashion-tech innovation. While incorporating the latest digital trends – like Periscope, for example – may have worked well in the past to generate a buzz and increase engagement from those not able to attend Hilfiger’s runway show itself, the brand decided to push a different strategy for FW16. This time, the focus was on making things easier for those privileged enough to receive an invite to the show. Attendees were able to ‘fast-track’ their way to their seats using their Apple Watches – a simple-yet-brilliant, stress-reducing idea that other designers will probably implement in future shows. Furthermore, fourteen ‘Instagram-famous’ figures were invited to sit in Hilfiger’s exclusive ‘InstaPit’, which was designed especially to give these iPhone-yielding bloggers and style influencers the best view for taking the perfect Instagram pictures. A smart publicity move.

Intel continues to innovate

We saw Intel’s Curie module, which launched in August 2015, pop up at New York Fashion Week last season on the Chromat runway, where it was generally well-received by both the brand’s fans and the press, so it wasn’t a great surprise to see the two companies collaborate again for FW16. This season, Intel’s efforts manifested in an LED-embedded ‘Lumia’ collection of dresses which, connected to sensors wrapped around models’ hands and wrists, lit up in response to pressure. In another smart move, Intel issued out emoji-themed, Curie module-powered pin badges to style influencers in a bid to boost awareness of the company’s fashion endeavours. The emoji pins were able to track wearers’ movement, step count and location.

FitBit hopes to sway the fashion crowd

Fitness trackers have been a key trend on the wearables scene for a while now – many brands have pushed fashion-forward options in order to score new buyers – so while Fitbit’s newly announced collaboration with NY brand Public School certainly isn’t groundbreaking, it at least looks impressive. During Public School’s FW16 show, the brand debuted five gender-neutral variations of Fitbit’s slimline Alta model, designed by Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Obsborne.

“We keep thinking how can we push the boundaries of fitness and fashion … We’re finally comfortable with the product we have that allows us the versatility that’s important when you partner with fashion brands,” Tim Rosa, FitBit’s VP of Global Marketing, told Mashable.

FitBit hopes to sway the fashion crowd

While many NYFW labels kept things cool in terms of tech, others just couldn’t resist the dramatic, showy element a bit of digitisation can bring to a piece of clothing. VFILES designer Nayana Malhotra, whose desire to create garments that looked “like wearing the Internet” was translated into a series of capes with GIFs projected onto them. Other designers such as threeASFOUR, Ohne Titel and Alexis Walsh all experimented with 3D printing

This season NY has definitely taken a departure from tech for tech’s sake with some brands still uncertain on how tech can best be used to push them forward.

What brands are killing it in the digital space? Join us at the Fashion Futures Award on May 18th to find out. Book your ticket now.

Reported by Grace Howard

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Topshop Wearables
Image source: Digital Trends

With Apple seemingly determined to push the Apple Watch into fashion territory by collaborating with the likes of Hermès, it would be easy to think that wearables are only set to rise in the ranks of the fashion world. Thus far, however, most attempts at ‘stylish’ wearables have fallen flat, with common complaints being that they’re too gimmicky, impractical or simply unattractive. But in a new partnership with Barclaycard’s bPay, Topshop has created a line of accessories that utilise contactless payment technology and – most crucially to the style-savvy consumer – look current, fun and unassuming all at the same time.

The collection of small accessories, which includes smartphone cases, key rings and wristbands, each contain a bPay contactless chip. This is linked to the owner’s bPay digital wallet, meaning they can securely pay for items by just tapping their accessory on a contactless payment system.

It’s the design values that make this fashion-tech collaboration so appealing: instead of overcomplicating the tech elements (which seems to be a one-way route to gimmickry), Topshop and bPay have focused on creating a product that appears markedly non-tech-like. Those who consider items like the Apple Watch to be unattractive or out of their price range could easily be swayed by the unobtrusive nature of a colourful Topshop x bPay phone case, sticker or key ring. Perhaps the best way to lure the aesthetically minded into the world of wearables is to make them a bit less wearable.

In an industry that tends to see high-end brands dictating trends to the high street – the lower end of the fashion food chain – it’s interesting to see Topshop approaching the relatively unchartered territory of wearables, demonstrating more savvy than many luxury labels. Perhaps the high-street giant’s main demographic, the younger generation, is the main reason Topshop has got it so right.

However, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen wearables designed for the fashion-oriented. Topshop’s gimmick-free accessories are in a similar vein to the NFC-enabled jewellery showcased on Henry Holland’s S/S 16 runway, which he reportedly designed with a “vain, fashion-conscious customer” in mind. “We’re at the stage where [wearables have their] own kind of recognisable look,” he told Wareable.com. “People have been turned off by it.”

Taking non-recognisable wearables to a whole new level, though, is Project Jacquard. Set to release its first lines in spring 2016, this brainchild of Levi’s and Google uses smart textiles – but not as we know them. The products are created with conductive yarns, which, once interwoven with natural and synthetic yarns like cotton and polyester, make for decidedly ‘normal’-looking fabrics.

Meanwhile, Kovert Designs’ jewellery pieces are wearables with a difference, designed to give users a digital detox. Kovert’s founder Kate Unsworth describes the smart jewellery as a “modern-day pager”, devised to eliminate the urge to check one’s phone notifications constantly, and instead just be notified about the incoming messages, calls and updates that actually matter. Kovert’s pieces resemble costume jewellery but are far from gaudy – these are beautifully designed items that could easily be worn from day-to-day without losing their appeal.

Reported by Grace Howard

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Dissolving Coat PFW
Image source: Hussein Chalayan

With the Paris shows coming to a close this week, Fashion Month is now over. But what did Paris Fashion Week bring to the table in terms of tech? From light-up sandals to dissolvable dresses and bags that can showcase your favourite films, it seems that Paris loves its wearables. Here are just five of our top tech moments from the French capital.

Hussein Chalayan’s Dissolvable Dresses

“If you don’t take risks in the fashion world, you stay static,” says Hussein Chalayan. A perfectly valid reason, then, to make two of his designs dissolve on his SS16 runway. At the end of Chalayan’s show, two models stood calmly under a running shower and slowly – magically – their white, water-soluble shirt dresses broke down to reveal beautiful Swarovski-embellished gowns underneath.

As well as being yet another tech-meets-design triumph for Chalayan, who has a reputation for bringing a performance art element to his shows, this particular fashion moment went viral online.

Anrealage’s Light Show

Japanese designer Kunihiko Morinaga, the brains behind young brand Anrealage, challenged his audience to change the way they see clothes on the runway. Show attendees were invited to use the flash on their cameras when photographing the clothes, which were constructed using photosensitive fabric. Under harsh, bright flashlight, the colour of the clothes transformed. Putting the fun element aside, however, was this perhaps a bit too gimmicky to translate anywhere away from the runway?

Tom Ford & Lady Gaga Join Forces

Tom Ford shunned a generic runway presentation this season, instead opting to showcase his latest wares through the medium of video – music video, to be precise. Guest-starring Lady Gaga, who also provided the short film’s soundtrack, the video showcases Ford’s gaudy eveningwear in an engaging way, showing a ‘fun’ side of fashion that isn’t often seen at Paris Fashion Week. “Having a runway show has become so much about the creation of imagery for online and social media,” Ford explained. “I wanted to think about how to present a collection in a cinematic way.”

Diana Broussard’s Customisable Video Bag

Despite hailing from New York, accessories designer Diana Broussard decided to wait until Paris Fashion Week to showcase her latest design: a Plexiglas shoulder bag with an LCD video screen. The dbChronicle bag, which will retail for $1,950, can either play a video of the consumer’s choice, or a generic, so-called “aspirational” video created by Broussard and her team. Recharging the bag is as simple as plugging it into your laptop via a USB cable.

Old-School Wearables at Chanel

Even if live streaming didn’t exist, Chanel shows would still become trending topics on Twitter. The brand hardly pushes boundaries with its approach to tech, but it probably doesn’t need to – the ever extravagant, themed, expensive sets are a spectacle in themselves that never fail to hit Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat feeds all over the world.

Similarly, the celebrity hype surrounding the brand – both on the front row with Lily-Rose Depp and on the catwalk with Kendall Jenner – speaks for itself. However, Lagerfeld did bring some more tech into the mix for SS16 in the form of light-up Teva-style sandals, bringing back memories of 90s trainers with flashing soles.

Join us at our Milan Summit on November 17-18 to see how luxury brands are pushing tech to enhance their brand offering. Book your ticket here.

Reported by Grace Howard



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Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Contactless Jacket
Image source: Lyle & Scott

British banking corporation Barclays has adapted its near field communication (NFC) payment technology for the wearables market – as demonstrated by the Contactless Jacket, created with Scottish luxury menswear label Lyle & Scott.

Barclays’ NFC mobile payment service bPay allows customers to send money from any bank account to a digital wallet. The wallet is accessible via a number of devices, including a wristband, a key fob, the bPay sticker (which can be stuck onto items such as smartphones) – and now the Contactless Jacket.

The jacket has been designed with a small pouch in the sleeve cuff, where a Barclays bPay chip can be kept. This will enable the wearer to make payments of up to £30 ($46) by simply touching their cuff on any contactless payment terminal.

While the jacket may seem little more than a gimmick to some, the project is grounded in a solid appetite for wearable tech; the market is set to boom, with units to ship projected to reach 116 million devices by 2017 (Juniper Research, 2014).

As contactless payment becomes increasingly popular (UK shoppers have spent more than £2.5bn ($3.8bn) on contactless cards so far this year), point-of-sale solutions that permit quick, convenient transactions are more relevant than ever.

Guest post Stylus.com by Katie Baron


Image source: Sid Jatia

With experience at Razorfish, Electronic Arts and now sports apparel company of the moment Under Armour, Sid Jatia knows more than most about the development of a successful e-commerce and omnichannel strategy. Ahead of his appearance at our NYC Summit next month, we caught up with the Under Armour VP (Direct-to-Consumer/Digital) to thrash out what exactly a digital-first sensibility should mean in today’s retail landscape, and also to ask him to predict the technologies that could change the game altogether in the future.

Could you connect the dots between previous roles on your CV, and how they led to your current one at Under Armour?

The last 15 years of my life have had a very strong influence of Customer Experience and Technology, starting with the graduate programme at Parsons and a series of fortunate opportunities at Electronic Arts, Razorfish and now at Under Armour. Specifically in my tenure at Razorfish, I led several global retail and e-commerce clients through business transformation utilising technology as the great facilitator and customer centricity as the major outcome, whether it be optimising online businesses, creating new business models or making the hottest customer experience in a retail store.

What brought me to Under Armour was the forward-looking vision that was in the works around connected fitness and how a traditional manufacturer – now a retail and e-commerce player – can transcend to become all about the athlete’s (customer’s) goals vs. their own. On top of that, former clients and colleagues who now work at Under Armour have inspired me. Their swearing by the authenticity and fervour of the brand certified the decision for me.

In your view, what does it mean to have a digital-first sensibility in apparel retail today??

In my mind, digital first in apparel is all about putting the athlete as part of the conversation in the full lifecycle: design/manufacture →plan/buy → merchandise →shop→feedback. It doesn’t preach e-commerce over retail. It is all about enabling convenience and personalised experiences for our athletes.

On the more interesting side, this sensibility has given rise to a new category in apparel focused on ‘wearables’. Right now, this category is dominated by technology companies, but slowly we will see more and more retailers becoming the centrepiece of that conversation. A perfect example is what Tory Burch is doing with Fitbit, which makes perfect sense in my mind. It allows for two brands which have their own unique strengths to come together on a digital-first sensibility, and create great products for the marketplace.

You have a lot of experience in shaping omnichannel strategy. What are the biggest tools and techniques that retailers should be using to optimise their omnichannel output?

It’s extremely important for retailers to focus on what really matters for their customers, vs. all the things they could do. Stop the search for a perfect recipe of flawless customer experience across all channels, and focus on how each experience can become incrementally better. Can you bring efficiencies of online such as deep product information, peer validation and searchability to the store? Or can you bring immersive experiences to the web? But the ability to execute this is still limited due to organisation silos and workflows which have been designed for a non-omni world.

Looking ahead, which new technology do you think could be the biggest game changer for the retail landscape in the future?

Honestly, getting to scale in a retail setting is extremely challenging due to integration and operational challenges, so no one technology can really drastically change what retail is. But if I had to put my money on a couple of things, I would really give a closer look to sensor enablement in retail.

The current landscape is a little fragmented, with different types of sensors ranging from BLE to RFIDs to NFC – but once we figure out which sensors are versatile enough to be embedded in all products, and can be streamlined during the manufacturing process, it will give the products a brain of their own. When combined with native mobile phone capabilities on consumer devices, emerging interactive touch/gestural technologies in-store and the new age of content distribution systems, we might see a different face of retail sooner than we expect.

To hear more from Sid Jatia, book your ticket for the Decoded Fashion NYC Summit on October 28-29.

Reported by Claire Healy

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“The fitness wearable space is becoming increasingly crowded and many users are feeling their excitement wane. Japanese startup Moff, however, believes the space still has plenty for innovation.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Moff

applewatch

As most schoolchildren are told from a young age, A stands for Apple; April, on the other hand, surely stands for the Apple Watch. The industry’s most hotly-anticipated wearable has been preceded by months of speculation – could it sell as well as the iPad on its launch? Will it provide a natural fit for fashion editorials? Now, on the eve of its launch, keen industry-watchers are looking to Baselworld (the watch industry’s international trade fair) for possible rivals. There, a crop of new announcements are proving themselves worthy contenders to the smart watch throne – one which, as we should remind ourselves, Apple hasn’t ascended to quite yet.

 

Coming from the other side of the bridge where technology meets luxury fashion, TAG Heuer have announced their plans this week to release a smart watch by this Christmas. In a significant move against Apple’s projected domination, the first smart watch from the world-famous Swiss watch brand will run on Google’s Android operating system – on a processor, moreover, created by keen wearables power player Intel. You’ll have to wait to find out more, though. At the Baselworld conference, chief executive Jean-Claude Biver told the crowd, “We don’t want the competition to know what we are going to do.”

 

Never easily dismissed, the irrepressible musician-turned-technologist will.i.am also announced a new partnership at Baselworld. KERING-owned Gucci, which recently changed hands from the Gianninis to Alessandro Michele, will also bring its timepieces into a new era through a collaboration with willi.i.am’s range of wearables.

 

For those of you still convinced that Apple’s the only brand that will get you telling the time more smartly, there’s not long to wait: the official release date is slated for UK stores on 24 April, but you’ll be able to order from the 10th. But if Baselworld is anything to go by, the smartwatch marketplace is about to get very interesting.

Writer: Claire Healy

stylecollage

Decoded Fashion hits SXSW Interactive on March 13-17 – in the run-up, we’ll be posting content that gives you a sneak peek of what to expect: including panel sessions, special events and the return of our Mentorship Hub.

Hitting SXSW Interactive over the long weekend? The Decoded Fashion Mentorship Hub should be your first stop: there, you’ll find top execs and creatives from the fashion, retail and beauty world ready to share their expert knowledge and coach startup founders on growing their business. SXstyle, taking place at the JW Marriott Hotel, has plenty more to pique your interest. Get the lowdown on SXSW’s most stylish arm with our essential guide – from screenings to talks, here’s the best of the rest.

The Emperor’s New…Wearables?

This panel will thrash out the notion of devices that will disappear altogether in years to come. Speakers including Brandon Little (CCO, Fossil) and Sandra Lopez (Intel) will discuss how big industry players will make wearable electronics feel increasingly invisible.

(Friday March 13, 12.30pm)

Is there still room for Fashion Blogging?

This panel is inspired by last year’s New York Magazine article by influential fashion critic Robin Givhan, which asked whether the influence of the noughties’ fashion guerrillas is waning in a post-digital age. Presented by Caroline Waxler, founder of Harkness Hall, this talk will explore what’s next for bloggers – how can they stay relevant in a crowded blogosphere?

(Tuesday March 17, 11.00am)

T H E U N S E E N

Taking place at the Austin Convention Centre, this interactive talk and demo session showcase the work of Material Alchemist Lauren Bowker and her team of anatomists, engineers and chemists. Their world aims to collide couture luxury products and science in unforeseen ways – including a recent, color-changing AIR collection. Perfect for those who want to check out the vanguard of material design.

(Monday March 16, 12.30pm)

Full details of Decoded Fashion’s SXSW activities can be found here.

Reported by Claire Healy

weekly

SXSW Interactive is almost here! In the run-up for the festival on March 13-17, it’s time to take a moment to sign up for our special events, featuring new hot startups as well as established brands. And most involve a cocktail or two.

Decoded Fashion hits SXSW this year with the goal to bring the tech networking experience back to face-to-face interaction. Our Mentorship Hub, supported by Simon and Swarovski, will bring together industry gamechangers and those just starting out in 10-minute mentorship meetings.

And if you meet 10 rising stars in the Fashion + Tech space, register to attend the event on Friday presenting the winners of Simon’s startup competition, followed by Decoded Fashion’s Networking Party. Our global #DFMeetup series lands in Austin to help you mingle with the biggest names in fashion & Tech.

Saturday is content day – with five sessions to pick from at the JW Marriott Hotel. We’ll start the day talking about disruption in brands with HFarm, one the largest startup incubators in Europe, John Lewis, a retailer innovating through R&D, hacks and startup collaboration and our own Liz Bacelar, creator of the world’s first fashion hackathon. Also, don’t miss the ‘Meet the New Retail Disruptors’ showcase at 2pm, discussing the most innovative tech in retail – what matters and what doesn’t.

After all that mingling you might be ready for a digital detox. On Sunday, March 15, the suited and booted guys over at menswear start-up Combatant Gentlemen will be around to show you their innovative design-to-delivery model firsthand – along with a complementary massage.

On Monday, March 16 at 2pm, Cortexica, an industry leader in image recognition and Visual Search Technology, will be on hand to demonstrate their algorithmic findSimilar™ technology – and explain why it’s set to change the future of shopping. To end the day on the more style-focussed end of the spectrum is globally feted jewellery designer Kendra Scott, will be showcasing her new jewellery collection on a living garden wall at 5pm.

Full details of Decoded Fashion’s SXSW activities can be found here.

Reported by Claire Healy

Image: SXSW 2014

Kovert

Decoded Fashion hits SXSW Interactive on March 13-17 – in the run-up, we’ll be posting content that gives you a sneak peek of what to expect: including panel sessions, special events and the return of our Mentorship Hub.

Decoded Fashion’s Fashion Hacked Exhibit at SXSW Interactive will showcase the most exciting wearables and design concepts set to hack your world in 2015. As this year’s exhibitors demonstrate, the burgeoning trend for fashion-first wearables – with uncomplicated claims to functionality – shows no sign of slowing. After watches and fitness trackers, here’s the best of the rest at our exhibition: combining looking good and feeling good like never before.

Kovert

A Decoded Fashion favourite for a while now, Kovert Designs is the Kate Unsworth-founded design house that wants you to put down your technology and concentrate on other things. No, really – their new Altruis range aims to make social media less obtrusive by subtly filtering notifications into super stylish bracelets, rings and necklaces.

Stellé Audio

The perfect union of sound and style, Stellé Audio’s Mini-Clutch Speaker is boldly going where no wearable accessory has really gone before – handbags. It’s a Bluetooth-enabled speaker, speakerphone and clutch all-in-one: perfect for carrying your on-the-go essentials, making hands-free phone calls and having impromptu parties.

Thinx

We love a brand that uses technological innovation to do social good, and Thinx is the latest startup that aims to do just that. For every pair sold of this smart underwear – that endures over time through anti-microbial, moisture-wicking and stain resistant layers – a girl in the developing world will be provided with seven washable, reusable cloth pads that help her stay in school.

Kapture Audio

Perfect for musicians, mums, or just friends catching up over drinks, Kapture is the wristband that saves the audible moments around you with a single tap. It even captures audio snippets after the fact – so the moment isn’t interrupted.

Cuff

Cuff is the most desirable-looking smart accessories line on the market right now, tapping into an authentic, boho aesthetic without sacrificing on tech functionality. There’s a style for everyone and every need: whether you want to track your activity, never miss a call or text again, or even, in a unique offering, feel safe in the city with a built-in safety tracker in case of emergency.

Full details of Decoded Fashion’s SXSW activities can be found here.

Reported by Claire Healy

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