As brands jockey to establish footing in the wearables market, the marriage of fashion and technology has presented itself as the future of the industry, one that a few designers have been quick to adopt. Tory Burch, Rebecca Minkoff and Ralph Lauren have all delved into the market. It is fitting that the discussion would be carried into New York Fashion Week — even more so considering it is also NBA All-Star Weekend. Yesterday afternoon, Made Fashion Week and Intel held FAST A/W15, a wearables exhibit and panel hosted by Carmelo Anthony, who co-founded venture capital company Melo7 Tech Partners. On display was everything from shoes that physically adjust to the wearer to a bracelet that changes temperature to keep you warm or create a refreshing cooling effect. Opening Ceremony’s much talked about MICA bracelet was also out for guests to toy with — and of all the products, it was probably the only one we would consider conventionally stylish.
In fact, much of what we saw wasn’t particularly fashionable. But bringing style to this new technology is one of wearables’ major hurdles. As Anthony noted, though it is getting a lot of attention these days, wearable tech isn’t necessarily a new frontier, particularly for him as an athlete. “Sports and wearable technology have been around for a long time,” said. “The words wearable tech have for some reason gotten everybody crazy. Everything that we wear is wearable tech. Now, we’re just trying to get Intel, what they have and put it in our clothes.”
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, who was also on hand for the panel, agrees. “It’s not about bringing technology into the [fashion] space,” he said. “Go back 10 years ago, a phone was a phone. What people did was they brought intelligence, they brought capabilities, they brought the smartness [to the phone].” The next challenge in the wearable market will be bringing the same kind of smartness to clothing in a fashionable way. It is clear that there is a lot of work to do on that front, but with efforts from tech brands to increase their presence in the fashion world, there is more than enough reason to believe that it’s a hurdle the industry will soon overcome.