Credit Suisse estimates that the wearable technology market will grow from $3 to $5 billion, where it is today, to $30 to $50 billion over the next three to five years. Within retail and apparel, “wearables,” consisting of accessories with embedded sensors and displays, are already commonplace from sports brands (think Nike’s FuelBand). As another example, Adidas revealed a digital technology-enabled sneaker, being developed in conjunction with Google Glass, at this year’s South by Southwest.
However, Credit Suisse thinks the technology could soon turn into a “mega trend,” as more and more consumers embrace smartphones (which tend to be a necessary hub for wearables) and as an ecosystem of entrepreneurs devoted to the technology springs up to develop myriad ways to make it useful. Thus, it should infiltrate fashion beyond sports gear. Credit Suisse itself recommends eBay and Under Armour, along with Google (of course) as its current top picks for creating a future wearables market.
However, based on the rumored forthcoming “iWatch,” the firm also recommends Apple. If and when Apple introduces such a product, it could be the catalyst to launching wearable technology into the mainstream, just as the iPhone made smartphones the new normal. When this happens, will fashion be racing to catch up, just as it had to with e-commerce and social media?
Look, we know retail brands aren’t technology companies. However, as wearable tech takes its inevitable place in the zeitgeist, now might be the right time for a progressive designer or a particularly savvy label to forge a partnership with a start-up or a tech company looking to create a product that’s perfect not just in terms of its digital service, but its design, too.