Wearable technology (aka fashionable technology, tech togs, or fashion electronics) refers to the incorporation of electronic and computing devices into clothing or accessories to improve the convenience and portability of technologies — with that the productiveness of their bearer. Voilà. The time has now come to explore our options: From sensible to sensory dressing, are we ready to LED robotic dressing take us from pitch meeting mornings to done deal drinks?
In true stormtrooper fashion, Huami took the lead at New York fashion Week and wooed fashion industry veterans and backers alike into cooperation, paving the way for its products to be 100 percent in sync with current fashion trends.
China in recent years has seen the rise of many wearable tech start-ups such as brightly burning star Huami Technology, the wearables arm of Xiaomi Inc. (a highly successful privately owned Chinese electronics company). The rise of Huami has been a fast and furious success story, indeed. The company needed a mere two years to become the No.1 biggest manufacturer of wearable tech in the Chinese market and the current No.2 (as of September 2016) in the global one.
With the hampering development of several European and American wearable tech entrepreneurs, a number of newly baptized Chinese start-ups in the field spotted their window of opportunity to hatch faster and farther innovation across previously unchartered territories. And in such fashion it was that the overall set-up of the wearables industry, as well as the ever-accompanying rat-race, changed bit by bit… From Huami wristbands to the 360Fashion Net Robotic Dress: What (not) to wear? 当这一批欧美创业公司失速的时候，一批新的中国创业公司已经在可穿戴新品类的创新中走得更快、更远了。 于是，整个可穿戴产业的格局，也在这样的竞速中渐渐发生了改变。
Huami Tech Wear: Sensible Running.
Fashion and technology nowadays come together in sweet harmony, oh yeah. Huami in July 2015 within the timespan of a mere few months equipped famed brand Li Ning with 500k pairs of smart running shoes, proving the highly promising potential profits to be made in smart training shoe design. Many start-up companies subsequently joined in on the smart sneaker fun run by teaming up with major athletic brands to fill in this particular tech tog market gap. Huami, too, expanded its brand portfolio. Business insiders — because anonymous insider insights always make for a valid and valuable point — predict that in 2016, more than 10 million pairs of smart sneakers will be sold on the Chinese market alone.
Smart sneakers are only the beginning for the wearable tech industry; accessories possess even greater “A.I.” potential. Many start-up companies around the globe are currently attempting to implant their smart modules into accessories and (even) clothing. However Frankensteinian an undertaking this may sound like, Huami in the past 12 months has, in collaboration with a number of Chinese jewelry designers, unleashed various accessory collections onto e-commerce cyclopean Taobao. What’s more, the company sought the assistance of China’s TV sweetheart Gao Yuanyuan and New York-based designer brand – plus winner of the the 2015 U.S. National Design Award — threeASFOUR to hack its way into New York Fashion Week. In true stormtrooper fashion, Huami took the lead and wooed fashion industry veterans, backers and companies into cooperation, paving the way for its products to be 100 percent in sync with current fashion trends.
Many start-up companies have tried their hand at, for example, smart watches or bracelets embedded with Swarovski crystals — think Beijing-based ToTwoo. However, technology and fashion have as different a vocabulary and communication skills set as as Mars and Mother Earth. Ergo, the dialogue between both protagonists can be tricky. However, with the apparel industry, catwalk fashion and smart technology have the option to merge; the wearable tech industry’s main products will no longer be limited to bracelets and watches, but will very possibly extend into the clothes and shoes themselves. When Huami sells 10 million wristbands, this constitues a large number of goods sold within the smart bracelet industry. Nevertheless, when some shoe factory sells off 10 million pairs of sneakers every year, this number by no means lines up with the minimum standards. And what if we were talking clothing here? Alibaba knows the numbers we’d be talking about… For now, we shall back away from the big biz talk and at what we’ll be wrapping ourselves up in this Halloween. Or cocktail hour.
I’m showing how fashion can be thought provoking, something that pushes people to think and share their feelings. Anouk Wipprecht.
2015: Dress Up… A Holland Halloween.
Either way, you’ll be in dire need of a Vodka Martini to throw on this first one. And a sense of humor. Experimental designer Anouk Wipprecht’s Smart Spider Dress, powered by Intel Edison, in 2015 made its public debut at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A cocktail with a nice kick to it, the dress blends fashion with robotics and wearable technology to “express the wearer’s emotions and protect their personal space”. Quote, Motherboard. This macabre yet mesmerizing couture concoction makes up Wipprecht’s latest venture into what can happen when robotics, wearable technology and fashion collide.
With its rippled, laser-sintered bodice charged with both motion and respiratory sensors linking back to the main processor, the dress actually measures its wearer’s “emotional” state – i.e. calm and collected or frenzied and furious — making the garment less of a raffish piece of wearable couture and more of a risqué elongation of its wearer’s body. Wipprecht is no newbie at the crossroads of couture and technology. The Dutch designer is known for her previous creations such as the brainwave-monitoring Synapse dress, the Smoke Dress, as well as several 3D-printed outfits for Cirque du Soleil. Wipprecht had in fact unveiled an earlier version of the Spider Dress in 2013 with the help of hacker-roboticist Daniel Schatzmayr, drawing on the parallel points of personal space in an increasingly tech-tog-tempted world. Still and all, the 2015 version jacked up the beauty levels with a more groomed, more structural aesthetic. As Milady phrased it so consummately:
“Fashion and tech are merging at the moment, beyond blinking dresses or cute skirts. I’m showing how fashion can be thought provoking, something that pushes people to think and share their feelings.”
I for one will happily take on the Spiderwoman look come October 30. Mark my words. Nevertheless, and a far less one-of-a-kind event, I can calmly and coolly be roped in to bearing the following Robotic Dress and have an Old Fashioned after hours blast. Any day.
2016: Dress Up… A Hutong Happy Hour.
(Hutong or “alley”.) Founded by the Beijing-residing formerly-modeling American Anina Net, 360 Fashion Network (360) aims to build a bridge between fashion and technology. The company is currently burning rubber across the international wearable tech tracks with its recently unveiled Robotic Dress –powered by 360Fash Tech Kits. The Robotic Dress demonstrates that in the future, “one piece of clothing needs to do more, and thus metamorphosing from a day dress to an evening gown is not thanks to Cinderella’s fairy godmother, but to six servo motors, Intel Edison/Intel Curie, and the 360Fash Tech Kits”. Net in her own words.
The dress, which can transform itself into an evening look by one click of the button which inflates the dress skirt into a ball gown shape using six servo motors, was created by Net herself, based on the concept of a woman’s multitasking lifestyle: CEO of a company by day and “Spiderwoman” by night — it’s growing on me, I must say. Version 6 of the Dress, as showcased by Net in the picture above, was designed in cooperation with Bruce Bateman and Polish couture designer Michal Starost. For those licking their lips with an unquenchable thirst to dive right into the I.T. classic cocktail cool pool themselves, Net has very good news. The 360Fash Tech Robotic Dress Kit contains everything inside of it to make a Robotic Dress and comes with a rather self-explanatory manual — since everything snaps together, you just follow the instructions — to boot. The kit contains extension cables in order to move the placement of the servo motors and on the whole can be easily sewn and embedded into a garment.
The avant-garde (in its purest sense) garment has now kicked off its world tour, from the CHIC – 360Fashion & Tech “Smart Fashion” Expo in Shanghai, Intel Developer Forum, Shanghai Design Week, IBM-360Fashion & Tech “Startup Runway & Innovation Awards”, Berlin Fashion Week at Premium, 360Fashion & Tech “Fashion Tech Day Amsterdam” presented by Fashion Technology Lab Amsterdam, Frankfurt Book Fair at the Art+ Event to Shanghai’s Mobile Monday and many more stops to come. The time has come for “IT” girls everywhere to embrace their inner I.T. escort, so make sure to catch a glimpse of your future at a fashion fair theater near you. Fashion tech has made the transitions from geek to chic.
Wearable technology is not “coming to theaters soon”; its future is already here. A far cry from dressing in white pleather like we’re extras on “Logan’s Run” (dressed to die, I guess) or hamming it up in helmets for a Daft Punk video, fashion and technology have come to an amicable agreement. Style above the rest. IT girls come, sway and go away, but the fashion I.T. collab is here to stay. The future is looking bright, LED bright. So be sensible and dress sensory.
Featured Image: Interlaced via Bibi Goes Chic.