Intelligence for the Runway
You’ve always loved tech, is that the impetus for incorporating it into your accessories?
Outside of fashion, I’m a big tech girl. The newest laptop, iPad, or Kindle—whatever it is, I really love tech. It’s always been an interest of mine to merge tech with fashion that is actually considered beautiful. Today you have amazing tech, but it’s not that beautiful. Or something’s really beautiful but the tech is just not there. Our most important goal was to create something where the tech was as beautiful as jewelry and the jewelry was as beautiful as the tech. In the luxury fashion industry especially, our core audience is always excited about new things and the future of tech.
What are some of the criteria for cultivating a new audience with your designs?
The goal is to have technology that makes everyday life that much easier, and doing it with something beautiful, so wearing it feels effortless. It doesn’t feel like you have technology on you, and yet it does something to be a part of your life. That’s the big-picture goal.
Do you believe consumers expect this type of technology?
People are expecting more and more wearable technology, but we want to set the bar a little higher in terms of ensuring that consumers don’t think our products look like tech. Someone who wears one will get a compliment just because it’s aesthetically beautiful. And then they can say, “Well, it also has all of these amazing features and benefits.” It’s a wonderful thing for someone to comment on something beautiful and then be able to add that second layer of conversation.
What is the biggest design challenge to bringing tech into the picture?
I love the actual tech inside of things: the circuit boards, how an iPhone works, even the antennas. It’s so different from my industry. The difficult part is not the same as us designing something where we can go, “Okay, let’s make the metal a little bit smaller. Let’s make the cones a little bit wider. Let’s put some crystals on it to make it a little more aesthetically beautiful or conformable.” Instead it’s: “How much signal do you need? Or, What stones will let the signal go through? Or, How much space do you need for a battery?” So it was really about working with Flex. Like, “I want this bracelet to be a millimeter but need the battery to be 1.2 millimeters.” We had to figure out how to design so that it still looked thin but there was that extra space to put in a battery. It’s a true exercise in merging fashion and tech.
Now that you know more about it, does it make you think differently about what’s possible with fashion, accessories, and style in the future?
The possibilities are endless. By the time my children are my age, I truly think there’s going to be a microchip in their brain or something that’s going to be their computer! Technology moves so quickly that we are going to be shocked by what comes out in the market.
What would you tell other designers trying entering the wearables-in-fashion world?
You definitely need to be open-minded and not veer away from your big picture. If you want a product to look a certain way, it should look that specific way. You shouldn’t let the tech steer you toward something you didn’t have in mind. Technology is changing every day; there’s always something new that we can create to get to your end goal. Don’t settle for what’s already out there. For more information about the industry of wearable technology, read our story Ready to Ware. To read Flex President of Innovation and New Ventures Jeannine Sargent's thoughts on the future of high tech fashion, see her Q&A.