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Wearable tech: Fashion forward, or fashion flop?


Google Glass, the Smartwatch, Fitbits — wearable technology, and the functions offered at a flick of a finger are incredible. They’re the future, no doubt. But let’s face it — that gear is U.G.L.Y. No alibi. So what’s the problem? Why can’t Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Apple and other wearable tech makers pull their look together? It’s not for lack of trying, or motivation.

The wearable technology market, according to a June report from Visiongain will hit $5.26 billion in 2014. There’s oodles of money to be made in selling consumers wearable technology, so the sooner tech companies can offer mobile devices people actually want to be seen out at the club in, the fatter their share of that particular multi-billion-dollar cake.

Their biggest hurdle? It’s practically all dudes making wearable tech. According to a January report from the Washington Post, 89 percent of tech company startup teams have no women. Not one. And while women certainly aren’t the exclusive gender with fashion sense (Tom Ford), how can a room full of men who have spent most of their lives writing code and building empires based on bits and bytes be expected to navigate the fickle, freaky world of fashion?

So, like the smart businessmen they are, they’ve started to recruit some high-powered style makers.

Apple iWatch and Kobe Bryant

Apple is rumored to be set to release the hotly anticipated Apple iWatch with a little help from one of the most famous men on the planet: Kobe Bryant. The iWatch, it’s predicted, will have functions appealing to the more health-minded consumer like sweat, blood pressure and heart rate monitoring. After several reported sightings of Kobe Bryant on Apple’s Cupertino, California, campus, the word is that Kobe is actively testing the iWatch and making recommendations. Hopefully Kobe, clearly a fashion-forward tastemaker in the public eye, can offer Apple some meaningful tips on what stylish consumers really want.

Google Glass DVF
Diane von Furstenberg designed her own signature Google Glasses and sent her glamazon beauties traipsing down the spring catwalks wearing them. Was the geek-to-chic makeover a triumph? Judge the result for yourself. But when runway models can’t make Google Glasses look good, Houston, as they say, we have a problem. Google Glasses just fundamentally look… what’s the word… dorky. That bar down the side makes you look like you can’t see. Also, everyone out there right now wearing them is a tech dude. Google Glasses only became widely available to consumers at the end of June, so maybe there’s still hope. All it takes is for Kim and Khloe Kardashian to bust out a pair while shopping on Melrose in Los Angeles and it’s on. Heck, Birkenstocks are back in style. Anything is possible.

Moto 360: Smartwatch goes round
Smartwatches are only slightly less aesthetically hideous than a calculator watch from 1983. Smartwatches also, unfortunately, lack that hipster throwback irony so fashionable these days. Bless their little billionaire hearts, Smartwatch developers and manufacturers have given the world a device that only narrowly appeals to the Palo Alto bro set. Google is trying to boost the Smartwatch design options — and consumer base — with the latest release of its Android Wear platform that allows developers to design rounded watch screens, in addition to the rectangular, smartphone-lashed-to-your-wrist look that is currently the only choice available.

The Moto 360 was released in conjunction with Google I/O 2014 and the announcement of the round-face option. It’s better. Right?

Brace yourself, there’s a bevy of wearable technology options coming your way. They will either become so ubiquitous that you can’t help but buy one — fashion sense be damned — or wearable tech manufacturers are going to have to figure out a way to keep up with the whiplash pace of consumer fashion taste. What kind of watch will you be wearing in two years? Will your glasses spy on the next table at the restaurant? Only time, and fashion, will tell.

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