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Monday, December 7th 2015
Where is the fashion industry headed in terms of the integration of technology? We are all aware of the most recent development in terms of wearable technology and smart watches. The impact this has had on the watch market has been considerable and most established watch brands were caught off guard in this respect and are now playing catch up to maintain market share.
Any smart fashion brand will be asking themselves what is next, how will technology impact the industry next? A lot of new and existing brands are experimenting with new technologies and how they can be integrated into articles of clothing. So far a lot of the experimentation hasn’t resulted in any beneficial functionality for the consumer but instead has been for the sake of experimentation or as a marketing exercise.
My view is that the next point of focus will actually be technology enhanced bags, not clothing. It would make sense that an item carried around by consumers on a daily basis is the perfect vessel for the integration of new technologies. Unlike jewellery and watches there isn’t the same restriction in terms of space and unlike clothing, bags don’t need to be washed or changed on a daily basis.
So far we have seen little innovation in this area. Some established brands have sold bags with a smartphone charger inside but the technology isn’t properly integrated and it’s no different to buying the bag and battery separately. Some new companies have developed bags that feature a handbag charged by Qi stand which is a step in the right direction but the consumer needs to carry the stand with them in order to charge the bag away from home which is cumbersome. It also has to be noted that any integrated power source that is not removable may be an issue for travellers when passing through airport security.
The key issue is power. In order to add any functionality to bags there needs to be an integrated power source. In addition to this, most personal electronic devices don’t last a full day of heavy usage if not plugged into a power source. Wearable technology only serves to further drain the battery, not to enhance it. Until technology companies manage to create a battery that can power devices for several days at a time (which is unlikely as they continue to add functionality which in turn increases power consumption) users will need to carry portable charging devices with them in order to keep their devices charged. Consumers will soon be asking themselves why their bags don’t include a power source and why they can’t do more than just look good. The question is which brands are going to be ahead of the curve and which brands are going to be left playing catchup.
The author of this post- Eoin Cooney is the founder of Slaint . A luxury menswear brand that integrate technology into all of their products. Slaint also offer private label for fashion brands looking to integrate technology into their own products.