Fashion tech promises to seamlessly integrate technology into clothing. It has the potential to allow garments to respond to the surrounding environment, to better express one’s style, and to be simpler and more ecological to manufacture; fashion technology feels like the exciting next frontier of clothing. But it is an uphill battle, both from a technology and perception standpoint. After years of hiding our phones away in our pockets, smartwatches are slowing introducing the public to the idea of wearing a piece of technology. The idea is still fairly foreign though and it is an uphill battle to overcome the ‘nerdy’ image people associate with any kind of wearable technology. Additionally, batteries and electronics need to reach milestones of miniaturization, durability, and longevity for the true potential of fashion and technology to be realized. That said, we have seen a lot of exciting ideas in fashion tech this year. Whether it is Rebecca Street’s LED dress or Chromat’s breathing sports bra, most of the current fashion tech concepts are still relegated to the runway…but not all of them. In this gift guide we take a look at some of our favorite fashion tech that you can own!
New Balance 3D Printed Running Sneakers
New Balance is not the first major shoe company to show off sneakers with a 3D printed midsole. Adidas actually announced a on-demand, custom fit, 3D printed concept earlier this year but the company is still exploring how to bring it to retail. What New Balance is, is the first major company to announce plans to sell a sneaker with a 3D printed midsole! The sneaker will initially be sold in the company’s home market of Boston this April and will become available at select New Balance stores later in the year. The running shoe is designed for heal strikers, with a design formula similar to the company’s Fresh Foam line of footwear. The 3D printed midsole has a porous structure engineered for cushioning and flexibility. Created in partnership with 3D Systems, the midsole is constructed of a newly developed elastomeric powder crafted from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), called DuraForm® Flex TPU. The 3D printed New Balance running sneaker is a huge step forward in manufacturing technology; while the current sneaker will only be available in limited quantities, it represents what could be the new normal within only a few years time.
Since the shoe won’t be available until next spring, you might have to give the gift of an IOU for your loved one. There is no price currently set, but we expect to hear more when 3D Systems showcases the sneaker at CES in January.
LikeAGlove Smart Leggings
Love buying clothes online but frustrated by not knowing how things will fit? LikeAGlove is a company that promises to change that. Simply put on one of their smart garments and it takes scores of measurement information instantly. That data is then sent via Bluetooth to a companion app which uses your sizing data to find perfect fitting clothes from a database of designers and styles. LikeAGlove’s first product is a pair of smart leggings. The leggings are designed to help you find the perfect pair of jeans. Within seconds of putting them on, they measure your waist, thighs, high and low hips, and inseam. The app the presents a list of jeans, ranging from Old Navy to Paige, that offer an idea fit.
Shipping in Q1 2016, you can preorder the LikeAGlove smart leggings directly from the company for $49.99.
We don’t know what it is about shoes and fashion tech, but it seems to be the low hanging fruit. Maybe it is the high degree of customization and the one-of-a-kind appeal that things like Nike ID and limited edition sneakers have been offering sneaker buyers for the past few years. The holy grail of fashion tech for shoes seems to be complete customization. We have seen this during 2015 with the color changing Shift kicks and, now, with the e-ink laden Shiftwear sneakers. While the Shift sneakers are simply a concept, the Shiftware shoes are already on Indiegogo. The sneakers feature a flexible e-ink display on both sides of the shoe. You can use a companion app to download new designs or create your own and they can be either animated or static. The company behind the shoe reports it should have a 30 day battery life. With $720k already raised, the customizable sneakers are now a go. The people behind the shoes are making some pretty bodacious claims that we will be interest to see if they can make good on. In the meantime, they are still $280k short of including HD color e-ink screens and $1.28m short of wireless charging and walk-to-charge technology (you can see why we have an element of doubt). If the Shiftwear sneakers do pan out as expected, they will be truly a remarkable piece of tech!
The Shiftwear sneakers are available on Indiegogo for $150 for low-tops, $250 for mid-tops, and $350 for high-tops.
Self Lacing Nike Mags
Our last piece of fashion tech on the list has been dreamed about for almost 30 years. In 2016 Nike will finally introduce a real life version of Marty McFly’s self-lacing Mag sneakers from Back To The Future 2. Nike showed off the incredible shoes via Twitter with Michael J. Fox pulling them on at the exact same time his character donned the footwear in the fictional (or should we say…”alternate timeline’) 2015. In the video Fox is visually amazed as the shoes tighten around his foot. While Nikes like this might be common in Hill Valley’s 2015, they are pretty rare here. After 2011’s eBay auctions for Nike Mags, fans were hoping for a wider release this time around. Unfortunately, Nike will again auction off the shoes via eBay with proceeds going to Michael J. Fox’s charity.
Last time the iconic Nike Mags hit eBay they sold for between $2,300 and $10,000. With the shoes now including the marquee self-lacing feature, we expect prices to go even higher this time around. If you are thinking about the shoes as a gift (to yourself or someone else) it is worth noting that the lowest prices in 2011 were from the 1st day. Of course you could always just go for $100 knockoffs.