Fashion – you either love it or hate it. The trends we wear may make or break our appearance. And while some fail at fashion (the late Joan Rivers would have known who), nobody wants to look a fashion disaster. But what happens when you combine fashion with technology? No, it doesn’t involve space suits and LED helmets.
Technology is often used in the process of producing our garments. While design has to be aesthetically pleasing, it has to be functional, and serving a purpose as well. By factoring in technological elements, fashion can become even more exciting. This year’s New York Fashion Week further proves that technology is something that can be worn, and not just in the form of 3D printed shoes and dresses.
We’ve now entered the age of wearables – technology you can wear. But don’t worry, it’s not about having to wear your smartphones and bulky phablets on your wrists.
Intel recently unveiled its own construct of wearable tech, a “high-tech, high fashion smart bracelet,” as reported by CNBC. Called MICA, for ‘My Intelligent Communication Accessory’, the luxury item was created from Intel’s partnership with fashion brand Opening Ceremony.
This cuff, according to Intel, is “designed by Opening Ceremony, engineered by Intel.” It exudes femininity and would likely appeal to the ladies.
The bracelet features a 1.6 inch touchsreen made of curved, highly durable sapphire glass along with semi-precious gems and snakeskin. A luxury item for fashionistas to covet, the bracelets are made of exotic elements which include lapis stones from Madagascar, and obsidian from Russia.
Functionality-wise, the bracelet has the technological ability to receive notifications for incoming emails, calls and text messages with wireless charging. It can be used on its own or with a phone as it comes with 3G data connection. These bracelets, which come in two different designs, and will retail at about US$1000 each at Barneys.
According to Forbes, Rebecca Minkoff also launched her jewellery line this fashion week. The range of jewellery included a studded gold chain-link bracelet which also has the ability to display notifications of calls and text messages on the wearer’s phone, functioning similarly to the MICA bracelet by Intel, and Opening Ceremony. The Minkoff bracelet, however, is much more affordable, each costing $120, making it potentially attractive and appealing to the regular crowd. The collection also features a leather bracelet, $60, which doubles as a USB cable for mobile phones.
Jumping onto the wearable tech bandwagon, Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch, and Apple also launched their fashion wearables recently.
With so many options to choose from, the style of this season could just be wearable tech. But, how marketable are these products, especially to the masses?
While it might be a case of love at first sight, the appeal doesn’t last long. It’s easy to be enamoured by the chic and sleek design, with its trendy undertones in the form of chain-link, studs and jewels. But, after scrutinising the item at hand, you may realise that the technology the product has to offer can’t beat that of your current smartphone or device. And even if it did, most wearable tech risk being called hideous for its lack of style.
It will probably take years before people become accustomed to wearing fashionable technology with equally proficient functions. Wearable technology might not be a new concept, and pulling it off can become a tough task because smartphones already offer the same functions as wearable tech, if not better and more sophisticated. It takes time for wearable tech, with its limited functionality, to evolve into something…smarter.
Apple’s smartwatch, Apple Watch, unveiled on 9th September alongside the iPhone 6, holds promise for the future of wearable tech. It is both aesthetically pleasing and functionally versatile. The watch comes in a variety of bands, from Milanese loop to leather, in 38mm and 42mm cases. Made from highly polished stainless steel and sapphire crystal display, you could say it’s a dream come true for the fashionably tech savvy.
According to Apple, “All watches tell time. This one helps you make the most of it.”
So, will wearable tech remain fashionable? Only time will tell.