It is said that in the fashion world, a designer is only as good as their last collection. The same could be said in the technology world. When Windows 8 initially flopped, analysts predicted doom and gloom for Microsoft, how did the company respond? By posting year on year growth in revenue and market penetration. Would Jimmy Choo or Burberry close up shop if their next collection wasn’t met with widespread approval? Not likely.
Technology and fashion have more in common than most people consider, but they are also vastly different in many areas. Understanding the similarities and differences can help to determine where these two industries overlap, and where they can complement each other and even work towards similar goals.
Similarities of Fashion and Technology
Oversimplified, fashion is any popular trend, and in a modern sense is primarily related to certain styles of dress. Technology on the other hand, is the use of knowledge for a practical purpose. To put it simply, fashion helps you to look good, whereas technology helps you to accomplish things.
We can see technology in fashion, and technology that is fashionable. Apple products are perhaps the most obvious examples. They are technology in every sense of the definition, but products like the iPhone have become style statements in their own right. Fashion has also been influenced by technology, and in many cases it is the technology behind a piece that makes it fashionable. Take glow in the dark or LED equipped designer trainers. They’re desirable, they look good while people wear them, and they’re based on knowledge for a practical purpose.
In these examples you can see that the lines are blurred, just as they are on designer handbags with transparent cellphone inserts, wearable smart tech like the Apple Watch or LG G Watch, or even prototype LED dresses that have the ability to produce lightshows and time lapse images.
Where Fashion and Technology are Worlds Apart
Regardless of similarities and hybrid products, there are instances where fashion and technology are vastly different. Technology is ultimately more mainstream than fashion, particularly high fashion. Basically technology is more accessible. According to Forbes, in the first quarter of 2014, leading fashion house Gucci posted $2.1 billion of worldwide sales. In comparison, Microsoft collected revenue of $18.53 billion, while Samsung posted revenue of $51 billion. Nike, which is much more mainstream than Gucci, generated $7.0 billion in the same period, which was still a fraction of what most of the tech giants are able to generate.
It’s not just in the financials where tech and fashion start to show major differences. It can’t be ignored that most technology is disposal, whereas in comparison, there are fashion pieces that have the potential to be timeless. Vintage fashion style is hugely popular, but you wouldn’t be able to get through your work day on a computer from 1979. In fact, you couldn’t run the majority of today’s programs on a computer manufactured in 1999. The same goes with most technology. It is in a constant state of evolution, and older releases are routinely made obsolete. When fashion evolves, old styles remain popular, and the ones that are forgotten often come back years later to be reinterpreted or reused as they were.
Can Fashion and Technology Benefit Each Other?
Differences aside, there are opportunities for fashion and technology to benefit each other. LG Electronics found huge success with their Prada designed and branded cellular phones. More recently, Tag Heuer announced their first smart watch, which will be made in collaboration with Intel and Google.
At the end of the day, both fashion and technology are highly desirable. The businesses that can collaborate and maximize the strengths of both industries will find benefits as we move into a future where the division between fashion and technology is harder to see.
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