How is the fashion world responding to the advances of the tech geeks?
For perhaps the first time, tech is all about fashion. If we are to go by the thrust of the latest crop of smartwatches out there, the look of a product is as important as what it does. The fashion industry is being feted by the electronics industry as never before. Fashion designers and stylists are being tapped to lend their expertise in producing the most beautifully functional devices they can.
At the recent Paris Fashion Week, Apple went out of their way to invite a group of fashion industry heavyweights, including the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, to an event aimed at highlighting their new Watch. They also partnered with high-end Parisian fashion boutique Colette to host a one-day-only pop-up Apple Watch exhibition in a move which confirmed the company’s aspirations for the product.
Lea Goldman, features and special projects director for Marie Claire magazine told Reuters that Apple’s reaching out to the fashion industry suggests that “Apple is serious about tapping into the fashion world, which often sits on the sidelines.”
But how does the fashion industry itself feel about these new affectations from an unfamiliar quarter? When asked if he would wear a smartwatch, Patrick Li, creative director of T magazine said to nymag’s ‘the cut’; “If it were really nice, of course. It would help if it said Rolex on it.”. The same source reports a much more underwhelmed Punch Hutton of Vanity Fair saying “I don’t want to know” when asked about wearables in general.
A recent surprise entrant into the smartwatch mix is the inimitable will.i.am. Talking to CNBC about his upcoming PULS smartwatch (or ‘cuff’ as he likes to call it), he said that “PULS represents digital freedom, individuality, intelligence and the intersection where fashion and technical innovation meet”.
Amongst business analysts and commentators there is little doubt in the prospects for personalised technology. Pascal Koenig, managing director of the Swiss research firm Smartwatch Group was reported by Forbes as saying “In 2013, the global smartwatch industry reached a global market volume of USD 700 million, ten times the size of 2012. In 2014, the industry will grow to USD 2.5 billion – 5% the size of the watch industry. In the years to follow, the smartwatch industry will keep growing at a 3-digit rate.”
Apple supremo Tim Cook has great faith in his company’s humble Watch, telling Bloomberg Businessweek, “I think it’s the beginning of a very long run”. And Apple’s head of design, Jony Ive, feels that this is all heading in the right direction. He is reported in Business Insider as saying “With every bone in my body I know this is an important category, and (the wrist) is the right place to wear it.”
Angela McIntyre, an analyst at research firm Gartner is far less certain about the technology, telling the BBC that “It’s still wait and see.”
Perhaps we can leave the last word, at least for now, to the self-styled “Watch Snob” writing in askmen.com: “Smartwatches — good gods preserve us; isn’t the smartphone enough of a blight? It has taken the art of conversation, set upon it in a dark alley, throttled it until inert, and dumped its sad remains into a pit of quicklime, and we are all the worse for it”