As the technology that powers wearables gets smarter, fashion brands are driving the next evolution of the wearable market. Currently one in five adults wears a smart watch or fitness band and by 2020, the wearable tech market is expected to be worth 30 billion euros globally. It’s clearly a market to watch and savvy brands are making a play for their slice of the pie, creating accessories that put style and convenience ahead of features.
This is a departure from the approach to date, where technical features have led the race, with most devices competing solely on battery life and capabilities. But technology is no stranger to fashion; from smart fabrics, models wearing Google Glass on the runway, to fashion designer Adam Selman sporting the next generation of payment enabled dresses on the catwalk – wearable tech is increasingly claiming its place in fashion.
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In the fashion world, trends such as athleisure remain steadfast and ever faster, smaller tech is speaking to those same consumers seeking minimalist and seamless, but well-designed options. Now technology and fashion brands need to work together to end consumer confusion over whether devices are fashion accessories, tech hardware or fitness tools.
Making wearables attractive to consumers
Fashion and technology both act as extensions of oneself and for wearable technology to be attractive to consumers it must appeal to both aspects. Be it a diamond cuff, a metallic watch, or gold-plated ring, smart jewellery that allows consumers to unlock new goods while looking good is essential to the next stage of wearable technology’s growth. It’s a promising way for brands to enter a new market and reach new, connected and digitally native customers – wearables are multi-use, but cheaper than most mobile devices.
For technology providers, the challenge is making processes as smooth and unobtrusive as possible to empower fashion brands to design wearables that first and foremost look like high-end accessories. Recently we have seen a plethora of fashion brands claiming customers are moving away from the classic handbag, instead preferring compact options. In parallel, within the tech sector, we have witnessed the rise of multifunctional devices and frictionless technologies amongst consumers who seek the minimal and seamless.
It's a market that will take the combined expertise of fashion and technology to crack, with both sides embracing each other’s strengths, rather than reaching a compromise that neither speaks to their customer’s inner fashionista nor address their tech cravings. The first few brands are just starting to get this right with truly beautiful accessories that also happen to be digitally-powered and we can expect to see an avalanche of options as the trend picks up pace over the coming year.
Jorn Lambert, Executive Vice President, Digital Solutions at Mastercard
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