Beyond style: Integrating fashion and tech

Russell Blanchard

In partnership with the IIT Institute of Design, Smart Design recently hosted a panel comprised of experts in both fashion and technology sectors. “Beyond Style— Integrating Fashion & Tech” focused on the burgeoning ‘wearable’ market at the intersection of fashion and technology. Moderated by Smart’s Director of Design, Russell Blanchard, the panelists included:

  • Laura Forlano, Assistant Professor of Design, Director of the Critical Futures Lab
  • Gina Reimann, Creative Lead, Google Accessories
  • Nilofer Vahora, Vice President of Licensing & Product Innovation, Rebecca Minkoff
  • Deborah Alden, Managing Director, Pratt’s Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator (BF+DA)

Enable, Don’t Add

Brands like Mira, Wisewear and Sona are using real jewelry materials, design and manufacturing techniques to gain credibility as jewelry makers. This leads to entirely new companies, equal parts fashion house and tech startup. As a result, tech companies will need to develop a niche collection rather than a one-size-fits-all offering.

The best wearable is the one you’re already wearing.

Gine Reimann
Creative Lead at Google Accessories

Respect the Brand Signature

Luxury brands and iconic fashion houses alike construct their image by emphasizing heritage and craft. As heritage brands venture into a connected future they will need to break their own rules in order to broaden their appeal.

Technology should never look any different than the rest of the brand.

Nilofer Vahora
VP of Technology, Rebecca Minkoff

Brace For Collision

Technology moves fast and is never precious, the total opposite of luxury brands which are grounded in fine materials and impeccable craftsmanship. Consumers have no problem spending on style, but tech comes under more scrutiny. Companies need to resolve this tension and find ways to embed technology in a meaningful way.

Build with Big Data

Data captured through wearables should provide meaningful recommendations, a call to action and promote better behaviors. The opportunity to connect with luxury consumers through more meaningful data is the new frontier in high end wearables.

Stemming from the hour-long discussion are four key insights highlighted below. Watch the video to view the panel in its entirety.