If you see fashion only in terms of form and fads, and technology only as blips and bytes, you’d better look again.
Two worlds are converging fast as companies that clothe and accessorize us look to meet new challenges in production, distribution and customer service. The melding of fashion and technology is creating some tantalizing pairings that just might surprise you:
Louis Vuitton and Android
Luxury fashion brands have distinguished themselves through their attention to craftsmanship and detail, perhaps nowhere more starkly than in high-end timepieces. Skilled watchmakers labor over tiny mechanisms that command six-figure prices. Luxury brands love these analog timepieces, but they're increasingly putting their stamp on digital by using Google’s Android Wear platform. Tag Heuer, Movado and Montblanc were among the early fashion-tech watch pairs, and now one of the stateliest fashion brands, Louis Vuitton, is on board too. With built-in flight tracking and high-end city guides, its Tambour watch will take you on a stylish, connected journey.
Walmart and Bonobos
The growth of online retailing has made the cost of a physical store even more burdensome, and store chains are rethinking their relationship with real estate. In June, Walmart bought a company (founded as an online-only retailer) that has developed showroom-like stores where men can try on clothing that will be made for them and shipped to their home. In Bonobos’ Guideshop model, inventory becomes almost non-existent, the need for retail space shrinks and tech-powered fulfillment takes center stage.
Nike and the NBA
Nike is the NBA’s main apparel sponsor this season and bringing a line of connected clothing courtside, too. Its fan jerseys are paired with near-field communications through a high-tech tag inside the shirt, giving buyers exclusive content about their team. Use an app to pair your shirt with your smartphone or tablet and NikeConnect will deliver game highlights and photos, and open a gateway for more exclusive sales of tickets and merchandise.
Will.i.am and Apple
The hip-hop star founded a wearable technology company that donates a percentage of its sales to a foundation that teaches inner-city students about technology. The first product out of i.am+ was a Bluetooth headset, dubbed Buttons, that could be worn like a stylish necklace when not in your ears. Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior VP of retail, saw it and was so smitten that she got Buttons into Apple stores in four colors that matched the iPhone 7.
Flex and Everybody
Flex already makes about 75 percent of the world’s wearable technology, but we also lead in advanced strategies for design, production and fulfillment. That gives us a head start on other fashion partnerships in a market we expect to reach $37 billion by 2020. "Technology needs the creation that comes from art and fashion to really make the whole thing work. People want to have a look and feel and be inspired by what they’re wearing," Mike Dennison, President of Consumer Technologies Group at Flex, told Elle magazine at this year’s Fashion Tech Forum.