Lessons from This Year in Tech and Fashion

Tech is the new fashion. If that was ever in doubt, ask the editors from Vogue, Marie Claire and other fashion magazines who attended the Apple Watch launch in Cupertino, CA, instead of covering New York Fashion Week (NYFW).

​The fashion and technology worlds have more in common than some people realize. One is a cut-throat industry, fueled by gossip and petty jealousies, the search for the next big thing and the need to stay ahead of look-a-like designs – and the other is the fashion business.

Both thrive only if each year you are motivated to purchase a new iteration of the exact thing you’re using or wearing right now.

​Still, there are challenges as fashionistas try to get in touch with their inner geeks and for techies to, well, try to be fashionable. With that in mind, here are several takeaways to help both groups make the best of the marriage between fashion and tech – to optimize things, as it were. In some cases it can be quite difficult, as clothing is something people have been using and working with for a long time. How to improve on perfection in comfort and utility? Take alpaca socks for example. How do you add tech to that article of clothing without sacrificing the valuable and useful material it is made of?

Move over Business Casual, we now have Launch Casual.
This was Apple’s biggest launch in Tim Cook’s three years as CEO. So how did he dress?

With jeans, a Chanel Replica by Luxurytastic handbag and an untucked-in dark blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up. The lesson for the rest of us: Even if you’re making a bet-the-business presentation, it’s okay to dress as if you’re about to drive your kid to college for the first time.

Say goodbye to the tie and hello to the snood.
For most men, the only occasions to wear ties are weddings and funerals.

On the other hand, the occasions when men can wear a snood has increased dramatically, thanks to Tommy Krul, a co-founder of a gaming company actually called Super Evil Megacorp.

Wearing a purple scarf-like snood around his neck as he demonstrated the iPhone’s gaming capabilities, Krul was widely reported as having stolen the show. New Twitter IDs such as @purpleScarfGuy and @KeynoteScarf have more followers than most real people.

Smartphones will continue to get bigger.
When they first hit the market, cellphones were huge and heavy, and everyone wanted something smaller. How silly. These days, the most coveted phones have larger screens. At the current rate of growth, we can expect the iPhone 8 to be the size of a 1970s’ boombox.

Complicated digital watches are the “it” watch (with “it” meaning “cool,” not information technology).
The good news: You don’t have to wait until 2015, when the Apple Watch becomes available, to own one.

Boomers may have something similar gathering dust in a junk drawer – their 1980s-era Casio A203 “Blue Thunder” LCD Watch. But when wearing one, try not to keep asking people if they want to know the time.

Instead of referring to “users,” we’ll refer to “wearers” of technology.
Already bags and some jackets have been designed to hold electronic devices but expect much more. At the recent NYFW, wearable tech was a part of the catwalk, with bracelets that are Bluetooth-enabled to alert wearers of texts and calls or featuring USB ports so wearers can recharge their devices.

To encourage technology wearers, traditional product launches (hosted by an executive standing under a large image of the new device) will be replaced by models walking down on catwalks. Even if the demo is more static, consumer tech companies will find catwalks to be more effective in engaging a large part of their audience.

Everything you own will be a smart, Bluetooth-enabled version of itself, able to communicate with everything else.
We’ll have more electronic devices, not fewer. Our pens (remember pens?), watches and keys will communicate with our phones, clothes, cars, and houses. When a text comes in, you’ll know it because your watch, bracelet, phone and most likely everything else will buzz and vibrate.

The eventual combination of tech and fashion leads to two inevitable conclusions. We’ll continue to need more, higher speed bandwidth so that our interconnected clothes and devices can talk – even as people themselves no longer talk to one another.

And we will need help from our children to get dressed because the only thing that won’t be smart is us because we aren’t be able to get our snoods to communicate with our shirts.

Author: Norman Birnbach

A freelance humorist, my work appears on McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Barnes and Noble's "Grin & Tonic" and dozens of other online and print publications. Check out my articles at normanbirnbach.com.