2014 was a fabulous year for fashion technology. We saw wearable tech developers trying to bring the fashion designer’s touch to product design. We saw fashion and jewellery brands entering the wearable device market. And we saw more tech startups and fashion designers exploring innovative concepts like the solar-powered dress or the 3D-printed gown.
Clearly, fashion and technology are converging. Because fashion doesn’t have to be just about looking pretty. And technology doesn’t have to be just about serving certain functions anymore.
With all these 2014 tech developments in the fashion department — and vice versa — one cannot help but wonder: what does 2015 have in store in terms of fashion tech? The recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES2015) offered a glimpse into what’s to come, and it’s pretty clear we’ll hear about more experimental fashion tech concepts. But it also hinted at a shift in consumers’ attitude, from curiosity and reluctance towards dorky-looking wearables to openness and acceptance, as fashion tech developers are taking steps to incorporate their feedback. And the three areas of fashion tech that will become popular among consumers this year will be: smart fabrics, smart jewellery and smart retail elements. One mention, though: the products and services in each area will most likely integrate functions that cater for style and immediate, basic (more or less) needs.
Smell some predictions coming up? Right. Without further ado, here are the 2015 fashion predictions of a fashion techie:
- We’ll see more smart fabrics used in sportswear manufacturing for the consumer sector.
Smart fabrics invaded the runaways in 2014. But most of them, especially the colour-changing ones, have not transcended the runways. Let’s face it: they may not be something you really need, but rather something you’d want just for the looks. On the other hand, sportswear-oriented collections like H&M x Alexander Wang launched last November, disappeared from the shelves almost instantly. Because the smart fabrics used are highly functional — quick-dry, neoprene, fabrics integrating biometric-sensors etc. — serving basic needs of the person doing some sort of sporting activity. So we may expect smart-fabric sportswear to become quite popular by the end of the year.
2. Smart jewellery will become the new must-have statement accessories.
From smart rings like SirenRing or Ringly, that keep you safe and connected in style, to shiny bracelets and pendants like the ones in the Swarovski-Misfit Shine collection that have multiple activity tracking functions, these gadgets have received great feedback from female audiences. They cater for basic needs of today’s busy life, and they just look beautiful. This, in spite of all that technology tucked beneath the glamorous surface. Which only makes them great statement accessories. So this year, we can also expect smart jewellery to become hugely popular.
3. Smart mirrors will become integral to the shopping experience.
We all want our clothes and accessories to fit perfectly. When we buy something for ourselves, the experience is personal — it’s all about us. In an effort to delight their customers by personalizing their shopping experiences, retailers have started to adopt in-store technologies like shop windows that give advice on outfits, and interactive kiosks that let you virtually try on watches on a video screen. But the in-store tech most likely to catch on this year is the smart mirror — it can capture videos or pictures of you in an outfit, change the colour of the outfit so you can virtually try it on in different colours, and allows you to send the images to friends via email or social media, so you can get a second opinion from someone you really trust. And the thing that will make it the sought-after “thing” in stores is the integration of this particular social aspect.
Exciting stuff, right? All in all, if recent years have paved the way to a fashion future that thrives on tech, 2015 will be the ‘awakening’ year for both industries. And because spring is right around the corner, let’s just say we’ll be experiencing a ‘spring awakening’ — people will realize just how powerful the marriage between fashion and technology can be.
Blogger at Fashion Techie, covering fab trends in #fashiontech. Follow me on Twitter @FashTechie