October 17th, 2014

Wearable Technology: Fashion vs. Technology

Until now, technology companies’ attempts at creating wearable technology have been met with cynicism and horror as consumers have been presented with bulky and unattractive products. Technology companies have arguably been focusing on the “technology” element, forgetting that fashion is driven by desire, beauty, exclusivity and aspiration. Apple’s recent decision to showcase its smartwatch on the cover of Vogue China perhaps indicates an astute change in strategy for technology companies. The race to win over the fashion crowd is one which should be ignored at companies’ peril with the direct value of the fashion industry contributing £26 billion to the UK economy alone. Shifting the focus away from technology companies, below is an exciting selection of the fashion industry’s attempts to master, and ultimately conquer, wearable technology.

CuteCircuit was established in 2004 and first gained publicity when Time Magazine declared its “Hug Shirt” as one of the best inventions in 2006. Embedded within the “Hug Shirt” are sensors that feel the touch, skin temperature and heartbeat of the sender, and actuators which then recreate this touch and warmth as a hug sensation on the shirt wearer. CuteCircuit gained further publicity when Nicole Scherzinger wore its haute couture dress featuring live Tweets, a world first, for the EE 4G launch in November 2012. People could use the hashtag #tweetthedress and see their tweets come up live on the dress. Other famous fans such as Katy Perry and U2 have helped strengthen the company’s profile. The company launched its Ready to Wear Collection in 2010 and has various ongoing projects such as “t-shirt OS” (which allows the wearer to show his/her Facebook status, Tweets and pictures on the t-shirt) and “Skirteleon” (a skirt which changes colour depending on the mood and activities of the wearer).

Great progress has also been made in respect of wearable technology accessories. In July 2014, Lulu Guiness and Autographer created a limited edition bag with a hidden camera compartment, allowing the wearer to take photographs without having to separately work the camera. The bag has a small hole at the front for the camera lens, a custom 136° eye view lens, a small GPS unit and 5 built-in sensors. These sensors are linked to an algorithm which informs the camera as to the right moments to take photos.

As part of her Spring 2013 Collection, Rebecca Minkoff created a clutch bag, in collaboration with Stellé Audio, which is also a stereo system. The clutch contains speakers, a power supply and microphone. The clutch can be connected to any Bluetooth system, allowing the user to play music. The bag aims to give 15 hours of continuous play and also allows the user to make calls. Rebecca Minkoff also worked with Case-Mate to create a collection of wearable tech accessories, which was launched during her Spring/Summer ‘15 show at New York Fashion Week. The first bracelet is made from gold chain links and connects, via Bluetooth, to a mobile to alert the wearer of calls and texts. The second bracelet converts into a lightning cable that connects to a USB cable, allowing the wearing to charge her mobile on go.

Fashion’s move into wearable technology is arguably a smart step for industry players. The recent decisions by technology companies, such as Apple and Google, to produce wearable technology have meant that fashion companies risk being left behind from an increasingly developing section of the fashion industry. Collaborations between technology and fashion companies, such as those highlighted above, may represent a transitional solution until fashion houses adapt to their unfamiliar surroundings, and feel confident enough to take on technology companies at their own game.

stereoclutchEmbracing this fast developing sector, Olswang is very excited to be hosting its “Tech Is The New Black” event on wearable technology on 21 October 2014. We will be welcoming Tony King-Smith, Executive Vice President Marketing at Imagination Technologies, to speak about what he sees as the key features of wearable technologies, what is next for wearable technology and how these products interact with an increasingly connected world.

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It has been brought to Fashionista’s attention that the recently introduced Intellectual Property Act 2014 (the “IPA”) brings into force a controversial first for UK legislation, namely a criminal offence of intentional copying of a registered design, liable to a ten year prison sentence or a fine (or both). Under the new offence, a person […]

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London Fashion Week 2014 witnessed the further amalgamation between technology and fashion. Bolstered by the British Fashion Council’s Innovation and Digital Pillar, whose aim was “to support the British fashion industry to become the world leader in creativity, business and innovation”, London Fashion Week 2014 made great moves towards solidifying London’s status as a dynamic, […]

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The High Court of England and Wales has ruled in favour of Thomas Pink, the UK luxury shirt-maker, in its claim for trade mark infringement against US lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret regarding the use of the mark PINK. In a judgment delivered by Mr Justice Colin Birss yesterday, Victoria’s Secret was found to have infringed […]

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Fashionista was delighted to read the judgment of European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the latest fashion copycat case concerning Karen Millen and Irish retailer Dunnes Stores, as it reinforces the rights of those whgo originate and create designs. As some of you may recall, back in 2005, Karen Millen designed and offered for sale a […]

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Clothing brands often use graphic logos on garments, such as on the left breast of shirt or jumper.  Some of these graphic logos are instantly recognisable as denoting a particular brand and registered as trade marks.  Well known examples include the Lacoste crocodile, the Original Penguin and the Ralph Lauren polo player. Use of a […]

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As you may have heard, the internet is about to undergo a major expansion. The changes apply to generic top-level domains (“gTLDs”) – the letters immediately following the final dot in an Internet address. Fashionista read recently in the FT about London successfully applying for its own domain: .london, which will no doubt appeal to many […]

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August 14th, 2013

Zero support for zero hours?

Fashionista couldn’t help but notice the recent furore in both the press and parliament relating to business’ use of zero-hours contracts.  As reported in the Guardian, the most recent development being the legal action brought by an individual against Sports Direct, which has highlighted the company’s alleged ‘excessive’ use of such contracts.  With the use […]

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The pop star Rihanna has successfully made out her claim that Topshop’s sale of unauthorised t-shirts bearing her image amounted to “passing off”. In reaching his decision, Mr Justice Birss held that the elements for a passing-off claim had been satisfied.  These elements, known as the “classic trinity”, are: (i) goodwill, (ii) misrepresentation leading to confusion […]

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It seems only just yesterday that Britain was celebrating the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and with it, a huge boost to the retail sector. Now, just days from the arrival of their first child, the couple is again at the centre of the nation’s attention – and firmly in the minds of […]

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