Wearable tech just got cool with the launch of Mica at New York Fashion Week – a smart bracelet born out of a collaboration between cult US luxury brand Opening Ceremony and tech giant Intel.
Mica (My Intelligent Communication Accessory) boasts snakeskin, semi-precious gemstones and a curved touchscreen display. It also features a built-in wireless radio and can receive alerts and notifications without needing to be linked to a smartphone.
The bracelet’s key selling point is that the tech comes second to fashion – to the naked eye, it’s simply a piece of statement jewellery. “We tech companies inherently think of things more for functionality,” said Ayse Ildeniz, vice-president of Intel’s New Devices Group in an interview with the New York Times. “Putting something on a person’s body is a very different paradigm. We need to create accessories that people are proud to put on their body.”
Designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim – who not only founded Opening Ceremony but have also transformed Parisian fashion house Kenzo into one of the most trend-driven labels for luxe street fashion – boast a collaborative and adaptive spirit. Their influence on fashion, especially the millennial and youth markets, cannot be underestimated. Hitting stores this autumn, the Mica launch will set the tone for technology and fashion partnerships and further drive the concept of wearable fashion into the mainstream.
Similarly emphasising functional fashion, leading US contemporary fashion and accessories brand Rebecca Minkoff has designed a line of five wearable bracelets with US mobile phone accessories brand Case-Mate. Also set to launch this autumn, the range includes a chunky chain-link bracelet with dark studs that sends and receives a range of notifications, and another that doubles as a phone charger.
Minkoff’s smart bracelets demonstrate that wearable tech is set to have a broad fashion appeal reaching beyond the tech-savvy youth market to the mid-range and diffusion line contemporary consumer.
As wearable tech continues to infiltrate the mainstream and technology companies seek to make their products more desirable (see more in Tech & Fashion: The War On Talent), the fashion industry will similarly begin to explore ways of teching-up its offerings. This is the tipping point where we will see tech and fashion converge to produce truly desirable products.
See more in the Crafting Wearable Tech section of our Product Design + Innovation 2014 report, which explores how design is becoming more crucial to technology.