Imagining the virtual future: what connected clothing might do for us

Connected clothing

Connected clothing as imagined via the Janela Smart Products Platform

One of the most interesting things about connected clothing at this point is imagining the possibilities it will actually bring – do we really need tops that light up, shirts that tell us what the weather is doing, or the ability to see some of our social media feeds embedded in the laces on our shoes? When we stop and think about it, what do we truly want our garments to do and achieve for us?

The fact of the matter is, the things we wear are indeed getting smarter, and yet we’re still waiting for the perfect use cases to make us all want to jump on board and buy them.

The good news is, there’s potential that’s all set to change. You may remember a few months ago the announcement that Avery Dennison, a global leader in branding, labelling and RFID solutions, and Internet of Things platform EVRYTHNG, teamed up to introduce 10 billion items of connected clothing over the next three years.

That deal will mean brands and retailers have to think less about how to get their wares on the grid, and instead focus on what exactly they want them to be able to do. As Niall Murphy, CEO and co-founder of EVRYTHNG, said at launch: “We’re taking the manufacturing complexity out of the challenge list by pre-solving it for brands. No longer is it about how am I going to get my 500 million pairs of sneakers to have a digital capability, because it’s already there. Now it’s about what applications you’re going to create, and a focus on real end value for the user.”

On the consumer side (digital clothing has many business applications also), he envisioned everything from finding our shoes when we’ve lost them, to figuring out how to wash our clothes properly, looking for style tips on how to wear items, and even searching for how to buy a new version of the same piece.

In a bid to show how “born digital” clothing could work, the duo have now launched a video (as above) detailing the possibilities a consumer might encounter through the Janela Smart Products Platform. Reminiscent of the virtual wardrobe in 1990s film Clueless, it focuses on the idea that new items just bought will instantly appear in a user’s app, enabling them to help visualise outfits to wear based on what they own, as well as get advice on other things to purchase to match. It also turns to the end of a garment’s life cycle by helping show them how and what they can recycle.

EVRYTHNG has reportedly had to expand its sales team in order to keep up with demand from brands and manufacturers since the announcement. It is also seeing numerous new use cases emerge in things like supply chain, where identity on an item can help solve compliance issues and use data to join up fragmentation in the sector.