ARE YOUR CLOTHES SMARTER THAN YOU?

2015 will be the year of Smart Clothes. But what if your clothes become smarter than you?

Following the results of a recent study by The Boston Consulting Group, it is now official – Millennials are turning their backs on handbags and other ostentatious luxury items! With sale prices hitting rock bottom, and a drop in share value of 12%, the once beloved luxury brand Tiffany & Co. recorded the biggest fall in three years, according to the Financial Times. In order to persuade the savvy young consumer back into the luxury sector, high-end brands are putting on their thinking caps to create a new category that will make the heart of the tech-loving shopper beat faster. If 10.8 million smart watches are expected to be sold in 2015, what else will we be wearing this year?
Since Millennials consider on-body technology the new Tiffany, they’re demanding clothing that’s as smart as it is connected. Hexoskin is a smart running top that removes the need for sweaty chest straps and smartbands by connecting to other devices via Bluetooth and delivering hot updates straight from your body. This nifty little top can monitor your lungs, examine your breathing and observe action, whilst sharing all with your curious friends through a simple status update.

Continuing the trend for smarter clothes and fewer staff members, jeans are now able to communicate with shoppers in store via RFID and their phone, removing the need for sales assistants. An ex Amazon Exec has demonstrated in Hointer shops in Seattle that smart fashion can deliver all the info you need to make a purchase decision straight to your phone at a touch of a scan button. Australian brand Cotton On are offering an RFID-triggered music experience, with styles of denim triggering a matching playlist in the fitting room.
As smart jewellery, wearables and tech-rich accessories are the new luxe, Ralph Lauren is not one to ignore a trend. The brand tapped into Millennial dollars with the launch of a new object of desire – a handbag that is always on, with 1,000 hours in-built battery and LED lighting, making it easy to find the lipstick. For the next iteration we can expect sensors, in case you forget where you put it down, and it can also communicate with your home system to turn on the heating and ensure the house is warm from the moment you walk in the door.
A smart handbag of course requires a smart belt, and the CES show was already taking orders. Belty is a sensor-rich belt that can adjust to your post-pub waist, count steps, act as fitness coach (if you are getting too porky) or even vibrate when you’ve been sitting in front your computer for too long. With more capabilities than I can do myself, I’m certain I’ll be ordering one when a smaller version for women is launched – as long as it doesn’t constrict me to death in a fit of “wearables rage”.
Another belt by Xoo called Nifty is taking accessories to the next level by solving the constant mobile battery issue. From now on, you’ll never find yourself out of power – just pop the battery on the belt and link it to the phone in your pocket. There’s talk that it will also charge when you go for a run, thus motivating you to push yourself even further and get your battery fix to share a few more selfies, using the selfie stick you got for Xmas.
When your handbag or belt are exceeding the average human IQ, it’s probably time to get your hands on a smart dress that can detect your mood, and either attract or push away admirers, depending how you feel about them. With 20 sensors that monitor the wearer’s proximity to others and the ability to respond with a sharp poke if the person approaching is not your type, the 3D printed dress could soon replace pepper spray in your bag. The smart dress can also connect with your Facebook profile and, as recent research showed, work out your personality from noting 10-70 of your Likes and predict your extroversion and openness, better than any of your colleagues could.
Now we can even find out how would we interact if our clothes (or clothes extension like the Shippo tail that wags when your brain feels happy) learned and communicated our emotions to random people around us. Do not try this at a client meeting! Considering that a smart dress is equipped with a few sensors and a micro-camera, making thousands of observations based on your behaviour throughout the day, it is safe to say that your dress will soon know you better than your best friend. It will know if you are prone to being late, and nudge you if it’s time to leave, or make your way to the dinner party you’ve got in your diary (thanks to Bluetooth).
For the chronically late, the best bet would be smart glasses which can sync with your calendar and keep you on schedule by displaying event reminders on the screen. For bikers similar help comes from Skully, the motorcycle helmet with sensors allowing you to see behind the motorbike, send messages to your friends, notify you if a maintenance check is due or keep an eye on the speed. It´ll even remind you if it´s time to order the Valentines Day present for your better half (hotelchocolat.com has a great gift range in case you are lost for ideas).

Does all this tech mean we can expect to extend our personality to our clothes? Philosophers have investigated this dilemma, but concluded that our mind is already “extended” as we use physical diaries, calendars and calculators for offloading some of the data holding functions. Should we then accept smart clothes as part of the natural progress of the new  ‘connected self’? Or if they get smart enough, will they just do a runner as soon as they can connect to the nearest Uber, instead of attending another wearable product launch with me?

 

Join us at The Retail Practice Round Table event on 30th of January in Central London, where we will be discussing cash-less payments and in-store tablets.

If you´d like to attend, please email hello@theretailpractice.com.