The Runway for Intelligence

Are there examples you can point to from the fashion industry that show potential for growth of consumer demand for wearables?

We’re beginning to see growth beyond high-end, luxury brands. For instance, mid-market companies like Ralph Lauren and Diane von Furstenberg are starting to include intelligent, connected solutions, which shows growing consumer demand in a broader demographic. The technology isn’t just for the elite consumer anymore. Now anyone from millennial moms to connected teens is adopting wearable tech fashion solutions.

Are wearables still in an experimental phase or have they moved on to a new stage of adoption in consumers’ lives?

While there’s some degree of experimentation at any level, we’re starting to see several tangible signs that we are moving past it for wearable tech in fashion. The adoption of devices from smartwatches to sports apparel and footwear exemplifies a real-world need for connected living. Because of this, smart, connected elements are starting to become key fashion offerings. A good example is how a quintessential consumer fashion brand like Ralph Lauren has new connected product lines, such as the PoloTech Shirt. Consumers are also beginning to seek out more connectivity for their fashion wearables to enhance and communicate with the home, the office, and even their car.

What’s changed in your industry that’s making wearables a fashion trend?

Smart, connected solutions have really enabled the wearables market. When we look at innovation as being at the core of wearable capabilities, we think about the ability to actually source and create the smart, connected solutions that allow us to develop new product categories that will allow us to move forward. At the heart of the innovation ecosystem is the technology components. These are core and key capabilities in which we make investments in resources and new technologies. We nurture and cultivate them to make them user-friendly to designers, for example. We’re really empowering designers to start thinking about the technology early on, which is something we know their customers are looking for more and more. By having these core technologies at their fingertips, designers won’t think about wearables as the future; it’s the now.

How do you think fashion or tech companies approaching the wearable space can best assess what consumers need most?

Companies need to think with a platform-first mind-set. A great connected product can be useless if the platform on which it operates isn’t prioritized. Fashion brands that develop thoughtful, platform-based solutions to include current and future product lines of smart apparel will be much more accepted in the consumer market. There is a wide range of forward-thinking brands that have wearable tech requirements in their next collection. For more information about the industry of wearable technology, read our story Ready to Ware. For more on wearable tech, read Vita Fede designer Cynthia Sakai's ideas on merging fashion and technology.