​London Fashion Week review: How did wearable tech fare?

We round up the wearable wins and woes on the runways of London
​London Fashion Week review

Wearable tech and fashion are taking the world by storm, and you can't move for a new collaboration or venture from outside the traditional tech scene. The catwalks of New York, Milan and now London are increasingly becoming home to the latest wearable devices.

Essential reading: The best designer wearable devices

Speak to someone in the fashion industry and they'll tell you how the timing of Apple's Watch announcement was no accident. Just after New York Fashion Week and smack in the middle of its London counterpart, Tim Cook and friends want to be the talk of textile town even if only present in spirit. It's a similar approach to which the company used to attempt to take over Berlin's IFA tech trade show without ever bothering to exhibit.

Instead, the Cupertino company might have bitten off more than it can chew this time with the fairly safe aesthetics of the Apple Watch upstaged by some wearables with real wow-factor.

The fashion industry's take on the tech world has always started from a very different approach. Aesthetics come first with functionality kicked further to the curb by practicality too. So here's what we spotted on the runways of London:

The Jellyfish Dress by Richard Nicoll and Disney

The best example from London Fashion Week – and probably the wearable tech star of the show – is the Jellyfish dress as designed by Richard Nicholl in partnership with Disney.

Created in conjunction with Studio XO, the people behind Lady Gaga's Volantis flying dress and the emotion sensing wearable bracelet, Jellyfish is a slip forged from a network of fibre optic cables that carry the light from some high powered LEDs sewn into the fabric.

A small battery is all it takes to run the voltage source, the like of which might one day be replaced by a kinetic device harvesting the energy from the garment's movement.

The important part to note is that it doesn't connect to anyone's phone nor do anything at all other than look good. Perhaps that's a message that our wearable tech doesn't need to do everything, it just needs to look fabulous.

CuteCircuit

London-based wearable tech pioneer CuteCircuit took things one step further the week previously in NYC. They were happy to supply you an app to go with your dress, but the focus and function remain the same – looking great.

The company's garments can change their print and colour thanks to a Bluetooth hook-up with your iOS device. If you're in a different mood or just fancy a change in wardrobe then you can rent or buy a new design or switch into one that you already know. That certainly reduces the embarrassment of turning up to a party to find someone wearing the same dress.

The best approach for wearable technology is the one that embraces both the eye-catching aesthetics of the fashion industry and the core, essential functionality that one or two of the tech manufacturers have managed to get right.

Kovert Designs breaks cover

One of the best examples of this we've seen over the last week has to be from former model and mathematician Kate Unsworth – a lady uniquely positioned to create the perfect marriage of both technology and wearability.

She's come up with some stage one prototypes of connected accessories that bring notifications to your fingers, wrist and neck line.

The collection of rings, bracelets and necklaces are crafted from silver, gold or rose gold and conceal removable, rechargeable 'tech packs' in black or white. It's these packs that connect to your mobile phone and vibrate on notification.

They're waterproof, last up to one week on a single charge and can be changed from each accessory type as needed. What's really nice about them is that you can filter alerts according to their importance. If you'd rather not have your necklace buzzing all day, you can make sure that the tech pack is set off by certain apps, contacts or even if it detects specific keywords in the messages. Now, there's a level of granular detail to which the big tech companies should be paying serious attention.

Samsung falls flat

In fact, that might be exactly what's happened since Samsung itself was present at London Fashion Week, if only disguised by some Diesel design. Once again, the Samsung Gear S smartwatch has been blinged up – although not as garishly as the Swarovski treatment it received at IFA 2014.

While the fashion world was scathing of the Korean giant's attempts, we rather enjoy its big screen beauty. According to Styelite, the former editor of Vogue Paris, Carine Roitfield, was happy to inform Samsung's Head of Industrial Design, Howard Nuk, that “the problem with technology is it's a bit cold" and “a bit sharp" before branding the Gear S with the feint but powerful damnation of “not chic".

The opinions that count on the Diesel Black Gold bands, however, will be the budding rock chicks that look to buy them, should these dressed up smartwatches ever make the shelves.

That selfie hat

Last, and definitely least, of all from London Fashion Week came the wearable technology item that managed to embarrass both sectors of industry at the same time along with itself and anyone who's ever held up a camera in front of their own visage and pulled a face. The Selfie Hat is a shameless union of two buzz phrases a la mode from Acer and designer Christian Cowan-Sanluis to create a wearable that's neither good to look at or useful in any way.

The pink, sparkly sombrero with an Acer Iconia A-1 840 tablet built in can rotate and swivel to all your self-portaiture needs. Given that no one really has self-portraiture needs beyond the front-facing lens of their mobile phone, then we can happily draw a line under that one until 30 years in the future when a cache of unsold Selfie Hats are dug up in the New Mexico desert.

We didn't expect the future at London Fashion Week. We didn't expect the answer. What we see is an industry working as hard from its end of the wearable tech problem as the multinational device makers of the world.

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