The development of wearable technology needs the input of the fashion industry to make products appeal to a wider audience if it is to reach its full potential, according to analyst firm Beecham Research.
“There is a very strong focus on technology around wearable devices [which is] a problem as they should be user-centric,” Saverio Romeo, principal analyst with Beecham, said at the launch of the firm’s latest Wearable Technology report.
Saverio explained that there should be more attention paid to aesthetics with the development of wearable products and that a reliance on using technology to sell products is “a strong limitation”.
“Wearable devices are not only technology products, and cannot be. This is a market that needs close sector multidisciplinary collaboration,” he added.
If this approach is taken, Beecham Research forecasts that the wearable sector will be worth $9.3 billion by 2018. If the current technology-focused approach continues, however, the market will be less than a third of this.
Claire Duke-Woolley, fashion technology analyst at Beecham Research, said the industry needs to understand that consumers won’t just buy products for cutting edge technology or because they’re good for them — and that branding and association are critical.
“You really need to partner with companies that understand design and branding. We’re starting to see companies that are developing products with more disciplines,” she added.
Showing the importance of incorporating fashion into wearables, Duke-Wooley cited Google’s work with designer Dianne von Furstenberg and fashion retailer Luxottica around its Glass product, as the company reassesses its initially tech-focused approach.
Apple’s recruitment of fashion industry executives, such as Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry, is another sign that some tech companies are already embracing this approach.
“If this market really is to take a different route, we should look at partnerships that we have never seen before, between technology companies and fashion,” said Romeo.