Fashion and Tech Industries Co-Invent the Future of Wearables

Technology and fashion industry leaders intertwine to speed up the revolution in wearables.

The rise of wearable technologies, made popular by prototype devices like Google Glass and products such as Nike+ FuelBand and FitBit heath monitoring wristbands, has led to a heated race between completely different industries, each trying to create the next, must-have digital lifestyle product.

This race took a sharp turn this week when leaders from high fashion and high technology agreed to join forces in a joint effort to speed innovation in the nascent but quickly evolving marketplace for wearable technologies.

Barneys New York along with the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Opening Ceremony will be working closely with Intel, a partnership first reveled at the International Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas. This new collaboration aims to break barriers and connect resources needed to bring successful smart wearable technologies to market.

Intel® Edison, a new computer with built-in wireless and the size of an SD memory card, will be available this summer for fashion designers to create new wearable technologies.

For some it may be an improbable pairing to bring style-conscience fashion designers together with tinkering technology engineers. For Matthew Woolsey, senior vice president of digital for Barneys New York, it’s promising and unprecedented.

“Given who is at the table here, it will be interesting to innovate technologically something that will sit next to all of the beautiful brands and products we have in our stores,” said Woolsey. “Together we will be able to invent what the future of wearables can be for the fashion market.”

To be successful, these so-called smart fashions will need to be functional, beautiful and befit consumer lifestyles, said Woolsey.


Barneys New York store inside the Venetian, Las Vegas, Nevada.

A bracelet concept based on Intel technology is being designed under the direction from Opening Ceremony. Luxury retailer Barneys New York plans to carry the Intel-based wearable technology in its stores. According to Daniella Vitale, COO of Barneys New York, they will be one of the first luxury retailers to merchandise a beautifully designed smart accessory from Opening Ceremony.

The opportunity came to Barneys through its fashion director Tomoko Ogura, according to Woolsey. “There is no other fashion director in New York who pays as much attention to wearables as she does,” he said.

Designers will now have the opportunity to connect with Intel before creating their next fashion item, said Adam Roth, director of strategic partnerships at the Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA), a fashion non-profit working with more than 450 American designers to help them globally scale their role the fashion industry.

“The fashion industry is coming at this [trend of wearable technologies] with different perceptions and points of views, and Intel is sitting with CFDA, Barneys and Opening Ceremony and saying, ‘OK, what can we do with this.’ Working together they’re forming an opinion, a goal and then reaching that goal.”

Intel sees this as a way to foster the fashion technology ecosystem.

“Through these initiatives, we will combine Intel’s leading technologies with Opening Ceremony’s design prowess, Barneys New York’s track record to identify the next consumer trends, and CFDA’s commitment to advance innovation within the fashion industry,” said Ayse Ildeniz, vice president of business development and strategy of Intel’s New Devices Group, in a statement that appeared in Hollywood Reporter.

“Our shared vision is to accelerate wearable technology innovation and create products that both enhance peoples’ lives and are desirable to wear.”

Fashion and technology industry representatives talk about how they will be working together to create stylish, wearable technologies. From left, Bettina Chin, special projects, Opening Ceremony, Su Barber, creative director, Opening Ceremony, Ayse Ildeniz, New Devices Group, Intel, Adam Roth, director of strategic partnerships at the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and Matthew Woolsey, senior vice president of digital for Barneys New York.

One of the technologies that fashion designers could create around is Intel Edison, a low-power processor and wireless technology packaged together in tiny, SD memory card sized chip. Intel Edison was named one of the top 10 best launches at CES 2014 by Stuff Magazine

To spur more involvement in creating new wearables with Intel, the company also introduced a ‘Make It Wearable’ challenge. The effort calls upon the smartest and most creative minds to create products for this new wave of computing.

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