Fashion and technology: Smartwatches for fashionistas

Design has always been rather disappointing in the smartwatch industry. Let it be Motorola’s Moto 360 or Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch, ugly design was the main reason why smartwatches haven’t taken off.

But the Apple Watch seems to be the game-changer from the design and functional point of view.

Recently, it made its debut on the cover of the Chinese edition of Vogue, as Liu Wen shows off a 18-carat yellow premium Apple Watch, matching with her Celine knit and skirt (see The Guardian).

So the watch has made its fashion appeal to as many as 1.3 million Vogue readers in China with one hope in its mind – to ‘engage with fashion royalty’. 

When fashion meets technology

Will the next generation of fashion fanatics wear such technology?

Personally I think Apple has already achieved to turn iPhone beyond just a functional gadget into a life-style and accessory in some sense. Can Apple Watch also follow the same path?

Personalising the technology

Previous smartwatches gave no or little fashion choice. The Apple Watch, however, allows the fashion-conscious to choose between two different screen sizes and different strap materials (rubber, stainless or leather). A more luxurious touch is also available in 18-karat yellow or rose gold, just like the one Liu Wen was wearing.

So having the freedom of choice is crucial. So it’s not surprising that ‘Apple has designed its Watch to reflect a wide variety of individual user needs, profiles and preferences, both in terms of aesthetics and functionality’ (BoF).Perhaps we will soon have fashion brands making accessories exclusively for various smartphones, blurring the difference between fashion and technology.

The rising competition from the fashion brands

The smartwatch is believed to be the next largest ‘technology battleground’. It is not just giant tech companies like Apple or Samsung that will be competing against each other in the niche market.

There will be high-end fashion labels too.

Opening Ceremony has recently revealed its ‘luxury smart bracelet’, developed in collaboration with Intel. Similarly Tory Burch, TAG Heuer and Fossil have shown their interests in a tech-fashion partnership (see more on BOF).

If that’s true, then we will find fashion choices in smartwatches. (So that not all of us will need to wear the same futuristic costumes / accessories. No offence to

Very few high-end fashion prioritised functionality. Because it was their job to create something ‘practical’ and ‘comfortable’ anyway. Beauty and sexiness come first. Then the pain. But no one wears Christian Louboutin 24/7, unless you want to torture yourself.

The same for the Apple Watch. Since its selling point is about the functionality, it is likely to be worn as ‘a daytime device, or a device worn when engaging in sports’.

No matter how smart or functional it is, there is one essential element that smartwatches can never offer. It is the heritage and craftsmanship of classic watches. There is something symbolic and philosophical about it.

Some people look for something meaningful, memorable and personal in watches.

It’s not simply about the number of straps or how-many-carat of gold. You might be able to match them with your clothing or bags, but they in themselves can’t stand alone to make the powerful fashion statement like classic watches do.

Not yet, to say the least.

Can smartwatches do this? I bet they can’t. 

What do you think?

Appnova is a digital agency specializing in web design, UX, eCommerce, branding, digital marketing and social media.

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