When we think about wearable technology today, the first thing to come to mind is still clunky wrist-worn devices – smart watches and fitness trackers that no matter how hard they try, haven’t yet truly nailed looking like something we all want to wear everyday. In fact, that “fashion” aspect of wearables continues to have a really long way to go in terms of true integration in our lives.
Didn’t we all imagine we’d have completely connected wardrobes by now? As Matthew Drinkwater, head of the Fashion Innovation Agency at London College of Fashion, said to me for a story in Wired UK: “It’s 2016, where’s our smart clothing? Where is it?”
Indeed, “fashion tech” as a term rarely means anything close to what we actually put on each morning and rather still relates to things like dresses that light-up – beautiful Cinderella gowns that enhance the wearer on their journey along the red carpet for instance (Met Gala anyone?). Or lingering memories like that of Google Glass and its collaboration with Diane von Furstenburg… Say no more.
As a starting point, all of these launches have been incredibly important in terms of experimentations that lead the industry forward, but they also do a relative disservice to “wearable technology” as a category to be taken seriously in fashion.
So what are the solutions that are going to win? Head over to Forbes for an outline of 10 brands to be aware of in the rather small but fashionable wearable tech space. There’s Google’s Project Jacquard jacket with Levi’s, Emel + Aris, The Unseen, Zenta, XO and Thesis Couture, as well as some that stretch what the term “wearables” might mean – stepping beyond connected textiles into deeper fibre science with Bolt Threads, Spiber and Modern Meadow.