Fashion and technology. The two ideas and the two industries are intertwined to some degree yet opinions of technology among those in fashion often couldn't be farther apart.
Innovation and advances in technology have completely revolutionized manufacturing. As a result of technology, it is now possible to manufacture clothing at great scale; develop new designs, washes, textures, and materials; and even provide higher quality goods to the masses, among many other things. And while these are great advances worth noting, there is a trade off to be made when embracing technology to its fullest and among the upper echelons of the fashion world and to those who truly appreciate craftsmanship and quality, these benefits that technology offers are looked down upon. Rightfully so in the sense that with mass production goes customization, handwork, and a personal touch. Construction and quality control also become issues when dealing with mass produced clothing. Thus, the fashion and technology discussion is complicated.
However, it appears that the two industries, fashion and technology, will likely intersect more and more in another arena: wearable technology.
When people hear the term “wearables”, or “wearable technology”, they recall images of those Google Glassholes walking around like characters out of Star Trek. Who can blame them? The pictures are everywhere and it's as though Google wants us to make fun of them.
However, armbands like the Jawbone UP, Nike Fuelband, and Fitbit Flex are already on the market and unlike Google Glass, draw much less attention. Plus, Google Glass will evolve and likely be refined before being launched to the public. And more and more wearables are bound to be released in the future.
Thus far, the tech industry, both on the software and design side, has dominated the discussion of what wearables will be released, how we will wear them, what they will look like, and what they will do. But in order for these to be adopted into the mainstream, the fashion industry is going to have to get involved. It's going to take a while before people get comfortable wearing Google Glass and the fashion industry can play a big role in hastening that “comfort” process. Already, there are signs of companies realizing this. Google has partnered with Diane Von Furstenberg and there have been talks of Google buying, or working with, Warby Parker on Google Glass. Furthermore, Apple hired Yves Saint Laurent's CEO, Paul Deneve, and Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, in newly created positions last year.
So, slowly but surely, the tech industry is including those in the fashion world in the discussion. But there is so much more room for the fashion industry, and there are so many exciting applications of technology in fashion to come. If/how this will effect how clothes are made, what they look like, and how they function is TBD.
But as exciting as it may be, nothing can replace the work of a well crafted garment, hand stitched by a talented artisan. Thus, while we love and embrace technology and are anxious and excited to see how technology will better our lives, we'll never forget that the personal touches - handmade stitching and the like - aren't replaceable and we'll never tell you otherwise.X