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Trying on the Levi’s and Google smart jacket at SXSW feels like the future

The Levi’s and Project Jacquard team took to SXSW in Austin to demo its smart jacket fitted with conductive yarn that enables touch interactivity.

Rachel Arthur trying the Levi's Commuter x Jacquard by Google Trucker Jacket at SXSW with Ivan Poupyrev and Paul Dillinger
Rachel Arthur trying the Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard by Google Trucker Jacket at SXSW with Ivan Poupyrev and Paul Dillinger

The most important thing to say about the Levi’s x Jacquard by Google jacket is that fundamentally there’s little about it that screams technology.

We’ve known that ever since Paul Dillinger, VP of global product innovation at Levi Strauss & Co, demonstrated it on the Google I/O stage in May 2016. But now this weekend, everyone else who wanted to could give it a go at SXSW in Austin, where a whole rail of different sizes embedded with the conductive yarn that enables touch interactivity were on show.

Getting your hands physically on a technology that has just been a concept for over 18 months, is an exciting leap – especially given the fact this comes with the announcement that Levi’s and Google’s Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) group, will finally launch it to the public this fall for a retail price of $350.

But again, what strikes you the most when you do put it on, is the fact this is a fashion item first. Where most other “wearables” have been about hardware devices with the occasional fashion accessorising, this is all about textiles. The design is based on an existing Levi’s jacket – the Commuter Trucker. It’s specifically for urban cyclists, which is the point about the tech’s functionality too, but it’s also generally a nice looking, great feeling, performance piece.

And that’s what’s going to be critical for the longevity and mass uptake of wearable technology today – that it merges with what we’re both used to and want to put on our bodies. The tech has to enhance what we wear, not supersede or act in place of what it looks and feels like.

Head over to Forbes to read the full story, including insight on really why this matters for the future of the fashion and wearables market.

By Rachel Arthur

Rachel Arthur is Editor-in-Chief of Current Daily, the leading news source for fashion, retail and innovation, and the co-host of its weekly Innovators podcast. She otherwise serves as Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Current Global, a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion luxury and retail. By background she is an award-winning business journalist and consultant, contributing to titles including Wired, Forbes and Business of Fashion.

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