Watch this space: The fashion industry strikes back


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Apple is looking to disrupt yet another industry but hold on! Turns out, the people in that industry have some words to say about that! No, it’s true.

Writing for Racked, Leslie Price explains ”What the Tech World Doesn’t Understand About Fashion.”

Writing for Macworld, the Macalope explains what the fashion world doesn’t understand about Apple.

The tech world is infatuated with fashion.

The fashion world, meanwhile, is infatuated with itself.

This is because fashion has something tech seriously wants: the ability to create and sustain demand for products that are—let’s face it—kind of useless.

Useless. Smartwatches and wearables have no use. Literally none.

But at the biggest fashion houses in Europe, there is a general disdain for the connected future that the tech world fetishizes.

These fashion moguls have no respect for stuff they don’t understand. You won’t believe what happens next.

Anna Wintour famously carries a flip phone.

That’s really all you need to know about what’s wrong with the basic premise of this article. Carrying a flip phone is being portrayed as “winning.”

The iPhone, it should be noted, is ubiquitous not because it’s cool, but because smartphones are considered necessary in our modern times.

The Macalope is trying to parse the logic here and he’s coming up with a divide by zero error. First of all, there’s the use of “considered.” Smartphones provide utility and it’s a utility that people are willing to pay for. It’s that simple. It’s not some kind of mass delusion. Second, iPhones are more expensive than other smartphone options. It’s true! Yet they still sell remarkably well. However, according to Price, it’s not because they’re “cool,” it’s just because they’re “necessary” and there are supposedly no other options.

A “dirty secret” of the wearables market is that at least half of consumers abandon them within months, no doubt realizing how pointless they truly are.

It’s not a “secret.” It’s actually a clue that maybe this is unfolding exactly as other Apple product launches have. The digital music player market was a mess. The smartphone market was unimaginative. Tablets? Don’t even start.

Current wearables might be “pointless” (although many of the specifically defined ones are not) but that’s actually the reason so many people wanted Apple to get into this market. Because their competitors couldn’t figure out what these things were for.

In this case, the “what’s it for” might simply be “wearing on your wrist.” Sure, Apple’s building a platform as only Apple can, and the Watch will do a number of things, but ultimately part of it is making a fashion statement. Look at the page for the Watch Edition and try to convince the Macalope it’s not a fashion item. You can’t. In truth, you are only arguing with yourself. Look around you, the Macalope isn’t even there. And even you yourself are already convinced.

[Your head explodes into a rainbow.]

In this vision of the future, being connected to the internet at all times is not only exciting, but also mandatory.

Now we’re into the “ridiculous piling on of things that aren’t true” part of the column. Notifications are, of course, customizable. You can have none if you prefer.

Jean-Clauve Biver, the president of LVMH’s watches division, hasn’t minced words, saying: ... “Frankly, it looks like it was created by a first-year design student.”

Strange that’s not what he’s saying now.

One person who plans on wearing the Apple Watch is likely Biver himself, he said.

“It’s a fantastic product, an incredible achievement,” he said. “I’m not just living in the tradition and culture and the past, I also want to be connected to the future. The Apple Watch connects me to the future. My watch connects me to history, to eternity.”

Hey! So does Googling your commentary!

Hold on, though. Price isn’t done making potshots at the Apple Watch.

In some ways, the Apple Watch is similar to Google Glass...

Indeed it is. But in the “not going to get you punched in the face” and “costs a quarter of the price” ways, it’s very different. And those are pretty big differentiators.

But as The Verge reports, it was Apple fanboys who lined up to view the watch at Colette, not the fashion cognoscenti.

The fashion cognoscenti are disdainful of things that don’t come from the people whose parties they go to?! Unglaublich!

It’s pure arrogance for Silicon Valley to imagine that it can make wearables cool by hiring a few fashion people...

There’s definitely some arrogance here, it’s just questionable who it’s coming from. If you can’t make fashion by hiring people from the fashion industry then how can you make fashion? Price seems to think it can only come from the fashion industry, that their magic is not reproducible outside that milieu. That’s ridiculous.

We’ve seen this play out before. Maybe it won’t work this time and people really do want their dumbwatches. Seriously, when you say it like that, who wouldn’t want one? The Macalope can see the commercial now.

Salesperson: “Smartwatch or dumbwatch?”

Attractive shopper: “Dumbwatch for me. I’m the smart one.”

[mugs to camera, smiles to reveal teeth full of diamonds]

The rollout of the Apple Watch would look much different if it were orchestrated by a brand like Chanel. Instead of being released at $350, it would hit stores with a price tag in the thousands.

Uh, sounds like someone hasn’t figured out how much the Edition will cost.

Consumers would clamor to get their hands on one, only to be stymied by limited runs, which would further stoke desire.

“In summary, I have never seen an Apple product launch ever.”

But to do cool right, brands have to jettison tech world values like accessibility and utopianism.

The Apple Watch does both. The Sport is available at a relatively accessible price to create a platform and the Edition makes it high fashion.

Fashion taste is subjective. You only have to see some of the absurd gushing over the Apple Watch’s dull competitors to realize that. Or some of the crap they wear on runways.

Cool isn’t fair. You can’t have it both ways.

We’ll see. There are a lot of unanswered questions about the Apple Watch but fashion is as much about marketing as it is about design. Here’s the reality the fashion industry may not want to accept: the Watch already is a fashion item and Apple hasn’t even sold one yet. If there’s a finer example of being in the fashion business, the Macalope hasn’t heard it.

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