Idea

Why isn’t fashion taking part in the wearable tech revolution?

It will be a while before we see fashionable clothing with embedded technology at your local clothing store

By Robert Tu, founder of MeU, a wearable technology company
 

Wearable tech is a hot topic these days, especially with the release of the Apple Watch. Most devices on the market today, however, are focused on fitness, health or gaming, and most are not considered fashion pieces (with the exception of the Apple Watch). So what about fashionable clothing and wearable tech? When are we going to see that?

There are companies that are exploring fashion and wearable technology. Most of them are embedding LEDs in textiles, such as Cute Circuit in the UK, which makes video dresses for celebrities and other high-end clients. There’s also Switch Embassy, which is developing a social t-shirt whereby it can display tweets, photos and other social media data on your shirt. And, finally, there’s MeU, which has developed wearable digital signage for advertisers and experiential marketers.

Getting the average consumer to adopt this kind of clothing has proven difficult. One of the major reasons is social acceptance. People are not yet ready to wear flashing lights as a fashion statement. And even if they were, the price of these products is not accessible to the average person.

This is because the fashion industry and the tech industry are from two completely different worlds. Getting them to collaborate to make an affordable product will take time because they need to learn each other’s cultures, customs and processes. Another major challenge is the product life cycle of the two industries. The fashion life cycle is seasonal, whereas hardware electronics is annual and we haven’t found a way to resolve these two differences.

That being said, a recent announcement by Google and Levi’s sounds promising. Google recently announced a partnership with the iconic jean company: Levi's will make clothing out of Google’s new smart-fabric material. The possibilities are interesting. You could answer your phone by swiping on your sleeve, or take a selfie by touching your pocket.

It will be a while before you see fashionable clothing with embedded technology at your local clothing store. But it will happen. It’s just a matter of when.

You can learn more about wearable tech — and make your own — by registering for Robert Tu’s Introduction to Wearable Media course through OCAD University’s Continuing Studies.

 

 

Robert Tu is a graduate of OCAD University from the Graphic Design program. He also has a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo, and worked as an engineer for a number of years before transitioning into business development at IBM. Since graduating from OCAD U, he founded MeU, a wearable technology company that is developing socially interactive clothing. As a designer, entrepreneur and engineer, Robert is interested in exploring the way we perceive clothing and how wearable technology can change our behaviours and interactions with each other and our environments.




By Robert Tu, founder of MeU, a wearable technology company
 

Wearable tech is a hot topic these days, especially with the release of the Apple Watch. Most devices on the market today, however, are focused on fitness, health or gaming, and most are not considered fashion pieces (with the exception of the Apple Watch). So what about fashionable clothing and wearable tech? When are we going to see that?

There are companies that are exploring fashion and wearable technology. Most of them are embedding LEDs in textiles, such as Cute Circuit in the UK, which makes video dresses for celebrities and other high-end clients. There’s also Switch Embassy, which is developing a social t-shirt whereby it can display tweets, photos and other social media data on your shirt. And, finally, there’s MeU, which has developed wearable digital signage for advertisers and experiential marketers.

Getting the average consumer to adopt this kind of clothing has proven difficult. One of the major reasons is social acceptance. People are not yet ready to wear flashing lights as a fashion statement. And even if they were, the price of these products is not accessible to the average person.

This is because the fashion industry and the tech industry are from two completely different worlds. Getting them to collaborate to make an affordable product will take time because they need to learn each other’s cultures, customs and processes. Another major challenge is the product life cycle of the two industries. The fashion life cycle is seasonal, whereas hardware electronics is annual and we haven’t found a way to resolve these two differences.

That being said, a recent announcement by Google and Levi’s sounds promising. Google recently announced a partnership with the iconic jean company: Levi's will make clothing out of Google’s new smart-fabric material. The possibilities are interesting. You could answer your phone by swiping on your sleeve, or take a selfie by touching your pocket.

It will be a while before you see fashionable clothing with embedded technology at your local clothing store. But it will happen. It’s just a matter of when.

You can learn more about wearable tech — and make your own — by registering for Robert Tu’s Introduction to Wearable Media course through OCAD University’s Continuing Studies.

 

 

Robert Tu is a graduate of OCAD University from the Graphic Design program. He also has a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo, and worked as an engineer for a number of years before transitioning into business development at IBM. Since graduating from OCAD U, he founded MeU, a wearable technology company that is developing socially interactive clothing. As a designer, entrepreneur and engineer, Robert is interested in exploring the way we perceive clothing and how wearable technology can change our behaviours and interactions with each other and our environments.