The lights dim at Lincoln Center, the crowd falls to a hush, eagerly awaiting Diane von Furstenber’s Fashion Week runway show. As the first model struts down the runway wearing “Google Glass,” the crowd begins to buzz. This is an event that people will talk about for years.
From solar powered clothes that can charge cell phones to wedding bands that heat up to remind you of your anniversary, wearable technology is a rapidly evolving industry. According to a study from Rackspace, currently 18 percent of the United States population uses wearable technology. This number is likely to increase as 82 percent of users tell their friends and family that they feel these devices are improving their quality of life. It will contribute to the expansion of the Internet of Things from 13 billion connected devices in 2013 to almost 50 billion by 2020.
And that is the problem that industry pioneers face: The products must be wearable. Unlike laptops or cell phones that are carried devices, wearables become an integral part of a consumer’s identity. The marriage of functionality and fashion is a necessity for the survival of the industry.
To give wearable technology fashion credibility for the end consumer, companies are collaborating with big name designers. Beats by Dre teamed up with Fendi in Milan’s Fashion Week to unveil their new luxury leather headphones. Vogue featured the shoe insert Nike+ during their Fashion Month. MetaWatch, a smart watch company praised for their aesthetic sensibilities, was founded on the talents of ex-Fossil engineers.
Reactions to wearable technologies on the fashion and consumer ends have been mixed. Where one outlet praises the latest gadget for its sleek design and functionality others place it on the ‘What Not to Wear’ list. Wearable tech companies must grow to meet consumer demand for sincere design. It can’t just be an afterthought.
What do you think? Will wearable technology earn the fashion credibility that is required for mass consumer adoption?