Wearable tech: From Hilfiger Xplore, to Fossil smartwatches

Fashion brands may have finally caught onto wearable technology with a raft of smart watches being launched for big name labels. But, as reported in WGSN’s Future of Retail 2017 report, the wearables opportunity is much wider than just watches, and a wider reach than fashion brands, too.

More of the non-fashion links later, but first a look at the biggest fashion connected wearables developments of late. 

Tommy Hilfiger has started selling jeans and hoodies in the US which contain a tracking device that can also monitor how well the wearer is acting as an ambassador for the brand.

The logo-decorated items contain microchips from Awear Solutions that monitor the wearer’s movements, and could help to reward them for being seen in the right places. 

The brand’s Xplore garments have small, embedded Bluetooth smart tags that pair with the wearer’s smartphone to find out how often the item is being worn and where it’s being seen.

For the wearer that could mean discounts, gift cards and events tickets if they wear them frequently and visit locations the company has selected. The technology also comes with a gaming option, a bit like Pokémon Go, with prices for the pieces no higher than regular Hilfiger items.

Tommy Hilfiger told WWD that they’ve “always been at the forefront of digital innovation, using technology to deliver what our customers are looking for — unique experiences and instant gratification. Xplore is the next evolution of our vision, reaching consumers where they are and inviting them to be a part of the brand experience”.

For those worried about privacy, the company also said that all the data would be encrypted and that wearers would have to opt in and could also opt out. However, whether this moves beyond a mere marketing concept or not remains to be seen with plenty of social media reaction being negative.

Slightly easier to get your head around was news on Monday that Fossil Group has inked a global licensing agreements with BMW for both watches and smartwatches.

The design, development and distribution deal runs through 2023 and, as well as being important for BMW, it should help Fossil continue its recovery from an earlier weak performance, and shows just how important smart functionality is for the watches sector.

“BMW is one of the most iconic brands in the world,” said Kosta Kartsotis, CEO of Fossil Group. “We look forward to bringing our watch design expertise and smartwatch capabilities to BMW enthusiasts around the world”.

There are certainly a lot of BMW enthusiasts, both owners of the cars and wannabe owners. And the deal should be hugely important in reaching male consumers, given the car link.

In collaboration with the BMW team, Fossil Group will design and distribute BMW branded watches and accessories with the first collections available in 2019. The collections will be sold globally in more than 4,000 BMW retail channels and key retailers in Fossil Group’s extensive global network.

Smartwatches really have been the star category for Fossil of late with their performance earlier this year helping the company’s shares surge by 64% on news that Q4 smartwatches were finally gaining traction.

Since then, and the company has also announced a deal to make smart watches for Puma, with sport being another key area in which this kind of wearable technology is likely to boom.


Want more on wearable tech? Read WGSN’s Bio-Wearables: Technology & Innovation report.

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