The recent release of the Apple Watch has, unsurprisingly, sparked huge media interest and caused many to ask whether this is a new beginning for Apple, as it appears to be edging into the fashion accessories market.
Apple has recently appointed executives who have worked for major fashion brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Burberry, implying a conscious effort from the tech brand to woo fashion consumers into spending more on Apple products.
However, while Apple's new wearable tech product gives the impression that Apple is attempting to move into the accessories space, this may not actually be the case.
Despite a watch typically being viewed as a fashion accessory, we have recently seen the creation of several smart watches: none of which have managed to make any serious waves within the fashion crowd. This, coupled with a focus on health and wellbeing apps, rather than being marketed as a hip accessory, has left much to be desired from wearable devices in the eyes of the fashion crowd.
The same could be argued for Apple's new wearable product. Whilst fashion is a good fit for an aesthetically-driven company like Apple, it is more likely that they will be using fashion and trend cycles to align the watch with fashion trend cycles to boost revenue.
In doing so, Apple is borrowing the fashion business model, rather than edging into the fashion world itself. This is a smart move from Apple, as it has opened itself up to a world of marketing possibilities. By timing its product releases right, it will be able to take advantage of spring/summer or autumn/winter seasons and sales and ensure its products are released when consumers are already looking to spend.
That being said, it is not too late for Apple to enter the fashion space and this may be a tactic reserved for further down the line - once the watch itself and its technological capabilities have made an impact on consumers' lifestyles.
By teaming with a well-known fashion designer or brand in the future, Apple will be able to create a differentiated product that will more obviously appeal to the fashion conscious among us, and perhaps be more design than technology-led.
Currently, it seems Apple is concentrating more on the health-monitoring wearable trend that is gaining traction amongst consumers. As well as health, Apple is more interested in allowing consumers to receive all their information at a glance, so personalisation comes from the data within the watch, not from the watch's external style.
Although the borders between fashion and technology continue to blur, I believe more exciting things will come out of this space than the Apple Watch. I appreciate everything that Apple designs, but the Apple Watch does not excite me – no new ground is being broken here and I am just as happy to stick a device in my pocket, as I am to strap it to my wrist.
There is more to wearable tech than just gadgetry. Advances in conductive materials and integrated surface technologies mean we can weave technology directly into the fabric we wear.
Show me a jacket with the same functions as my mobile phone and I'm sold! Until then, fashion and technology will continue to collide and borrow from one another, but more in terms of business tactics rather than catwalk collections.
- Bradley Quinn is Creative Director at Stylus Fashion
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