Is Smart Tech Hurtling Us Towards A Dystopian Fashion Future?(Dazed)

The article first appeared on the Dazed digital.

Last month, John Galliano sent a tribe of ‘digital nomads’ down the catwalk as part of the Maison Margiela AW18 Artisanal show. Some wore VR-style headsets, while others sported clamps attached to their limbs holding iPhones and iPads, and another had a screen on the back of her coat. The collection blurred the line between man and machine, and it was clear that Galliano had the collision of fashion, tech, and our always-on lives in mind – which, at this point, feels inevitable.

The latest evidence of that came just last week, Tommy Hilfiger announced the launch of its Tommy Jeans Xplore collection – a new line which sees t-shirts, hoodies, and dresses fitted with Bluetooth microchips. Each piece from the capsule offering will track wearers’ movements, awarding prizes depending on how much people wear the garment. And if you pass by a particular Tommy Jeans location? Mr. Hilfiger is watching you – and bestowing goodies including cinema passes, gift cards, and discount codes with which you can buy more Tommy Jeans items (which may or may not follow your every move).

The Tommy Jeans Xplore range is just the tip of the iceberg, though. These so-called smart labels are actually something a number of companies have been developing – and implementing – for some time now. At Burberry, select items trigger fitting room mirrors to transition into screens and play catwalk footage and campaign films for the customer, while in late 2016, NY-based brand Rochambeau launched #borndigital, a campaign which meant that people who bought styles from its AW16 collection would be given exclusive access to clubs, gallery openings, and the label’s own fashion show by way of an accompanying app.

Elsewhere, Avery Dennison, the international company that creates clothing labels for the likes of Nike, Underarmour, and Hugo Boss, has joined forces with tech start-up Evrything as part of a project that will see over 10 million garments and shoes imbued with ‘digital identities’ over the course of the next three years. For the customer, that means personalised digital content direct to your mobile device, as well as information on the item itself, offers and extras, suggestions as to what to buy next, and links to third-party companies they might be interested in (as if we really need any more of those).

As for the companies that implement the smart labels, the tech will allow them to collect data on their customers, follow their movements, and eventually map out fully-formed profiles as to their lifestyles, their preferences, and their buying habits to better be able to fulfil their every requirement. Or maybe watch them while they sleep, while plotting how best to unite with an army of Alexas to overthrow humankind.

This week also heralded the launch of a new app which will recommend clothing based on your Spotify data. Developed by San Francisco-based luxury menswear retailer Eison Triple Thread (which, if you ask us, sounds like some sort of fashion-focused Disney villain), the app invites users to take a lifestyle survey, before connecting to their Spotify accounts and working out what you’re likely to want to wear according to your musical preferences.

While there is a correlation between some musicians and what their fans wear – take Kanye West’s incredible influence on his audience, and the success of the Yeezy brand, for example – when looking closer at the app, it doesn’t seem as clear cut as founder Julian Eison indicated in a recent interview with Racked.

Read more on the Dazed digital.

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