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Why the next big streetwear brand could be a wearable tech one

TwentyFour15
TwentyFour15

The biggest observation from Benjamin Males, CEO and co-founder of new fashion and technology brand TwentyFour15, which launched at London Fashion Week this past weekend, is that no one asked how it worked.

“It was a room full of Gen Z consumers, and they all just accepted it existed,” he explains. “This new generation don’t see sci-fi as sci-fi, they see it as a prototype for the future. This consumer we’re going after – they’re not technologically insecure, and the launch proved that – they’ve grown up in a world with ubiquitous internet and smart devices; they have this tech in their DNA.”

TwentyFour15 is a line of app-connected, fibre optic, colour-changing apparel. Males refers to is as a “fashion brand for the digital generation with technology in its DNA”, but what it’s also about is wearable tech moving beyond fitness devices and into popular culture by way of a youth-focused streetwear brand.

In a literal sense, that means t-shirts, a backpack and a bomber jacket (to start with) that are connected via bluetooth to an app that controls the LED lights otherwise embedded in them. Initially, the functionality is kept simple – there’s a colour wheel to shift the shade of the lights and a music feature that lets the user sync them so they also animate to the beat.

The potential longer-term, however, is much wider. The key here is that TwentyFour15 is powered by XO, the agency behind well-known wearable technology feats of the past including Lady Gaga’s flying dress and Richard Nicoll’s light-up Tinkerbell dress.

Head over to Forbes to read more about exactly what this new brand is hoping to achieve and how its streetwear approach is in line with a Silicon Valley hardware company.

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Editor's pick product technology

The future of fashion: 10 wearable tech brands you need to know

emel and aris - wearable tech
Emel + Aris

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.