Study Shows Why Weaving Worlds of Fashion and Tech is Paramount to Future of Wearables

Lisa Hotran Writer

Editor’s note: Wearable technology designers, Makers and computer hardware and software creators come together to shape the future at the Intel Developer Forum 2014 in San Francisco from September 9-11. Inventors and innovators can register to receive a complimentary day pass.

Until recently, technology and fashion weren’t commonly discussed in the same sentence.

Yet at recent gatherings like the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc Salon, designers agree that there is a need for more awareness and education about the past, present and future of what are now called wearables — technologies or fashion-infused technologies created to be worn on the body.

A new research report called Wearables 2014, released this week by Intel and L2ThinkTank, points to areas where dialog between the fashion and technology world could lead to meaningful innovation.

The report is grounded in the view that wearables are not a new phenomenon. Humans have been wearing jewelry for millennia, eyewear and timepieces for centuries and wearable computers for almost 60 years.

Yet the current market for wearable accessories remains bifurcated between fitness trackers and smart watches. The most visible things on Amazon’s new wearables storefront are controlled by GoPro, Fitbit, Jawbone and Pebble.

Early brand efforts ported apps to new wearable platforms, such as Mercedes-Benz; enhancing customer service, exemplified by Virgin Atlantic; or experimenting to drive earned media as done by Kenneth Cole. This new reports points out that pioneering efforts have opened new possibilities that will benefit from collaboration.

Evolving partnerships, such as Fitbit and Tory Burch, Google and Luxottica, Intel and Opening Ceremony, all hint at the next litmus test for mainstream adoption. In fact, these collaborations have lit up numerous fashion runways.

Moving forward, the ability of brands prevalent on Madison Avenue to develop effective partnerships with technology developers could determine if wearables are the next big thing or just another fad.

This week in New York, Intel and L2ThinkTank will be on and around Madison Avenue getting that conversation about wearables going.

L2’s Todd Benson and Colin Gilbert, Dave Meeker, vice president and director of Isobar Nowlab and Aysegul Ildeniz, vice president of the New Devices Group and general manager of Strategy and Business Development at Intel, will be making the rounds, discussing why both industries need to collaborate in order for wearables to be successful.

One-third of Americans who buy a wearable device stop using it within six months, according to a recent survey by Endeavour Partners titled “How the Science of Human Behavior Change Offers the Secret to Long-Term Engagement.”

For many, a big challenge with wearables is they’re too conspicuous, and that people describe them as geeky or even ugly.

In order for consumers to want to wear something that’s constantly visible on their body, they need to find value and meaning in it, the report states.

It needs to be fashionable and part of how we express ourselves, as we do with clothing and jewelry.

In order for wearables to be a hit with consumers, tech and fashion need to collaborate to create wearables that provide meaning through technology and brand aesthetics.

In the months ahead, Intel and L2ThinkTank plan to report on how Madison Avenue insiders reaction to the new wearable research finding.

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