Mothers of Invention: Driving The Force of Fashion Tech


All around us and impossible to ignore, technology is metamorphosing the way we experience fashion. We’re living in a world of ball gowns capable of fluttering against a breeze with responsive butterfly adornment, trackable couture for easy locating of your misplaced clutch, even sports bras that offer a refreshing cool down while tracking user performance. Today fashion knows the wearer better than they know themselves, and technological innovators have amplified the industry beyond futuristic limits.

Perhaps even more revolutionary is the capacity for new technology to allow us to better organize, better dress, and better present ourselves, even on a budget. The old wearable tech look is dead, one of bulky, black plastic smartwatches and Lite Brite illuminated garments, and in its place lies the sleek integration of fashion, retail, and technology, yielding a multitude of groundbreaking innovations. Fashionable accessories in a range of sizes, styles, and finishes. Screens, no screens, leather, semi-precious stones, 18k gold, nothing is too much or too little for this new batch of stylish wearable technology. From rings that alert wearers to their most urgent messages and calls to apps that organize your own closet into outfits to secure your favorite looks, fashionistas have never had more opportunities to purchase, even rent, and wear the latest trend pieces, all at the touch of a finger.

Now it is more crucial than ever to consider how you can integrate technology into every experience — both on and offline — in every industry. For the career woman constantly on the go, busy mothers without a moment to spare for themselves, and everyone in between, these innovations reap benefits that save you precious time, while providing new means to update your style in ways that are now easier than ever. It only makes sense that at the epicenter of these technological transformations are women. Women who understand the devastating compromise of keeping up your wardrobe against keeping up the fast pace of our busy lives, and who are dedicated to providing the solutions. Here are three mothers of invention at the helms of wearable technology, inspiring the industry and the next generation of female fashion techies.

Jenny Griffiths, Snap Fashion

Snap Fashion is one of the most intelligent visual discovery engines for fashion, quickly linking consumers with products online directly from their sources of inspiration. It’s as simple as capturing a photo. You watch someone strut past you in a pair of heels to die for, snap a quick shot, upload to the app or website, and you’re instantly provided an endless list of matches that is both detailed and completely customizable. Cutting-edge search technology put directly in the hands of fashion fanatics awards a certain kind of instant gratification. See it, gotta have it, and suddenly you do. The way we shop has been revolutionized.  

“I’m one of those people who always struggles to find the looks I’m after,” Griffiths told the fashion site Drapers. “Searching by images seemed like the obvious thing to do.” And what a both simple and fun way to shop indeed. Flipping through Vogue or Harpers Bazaar, you can now curate a virtual wish list of similar and less expensive alternatives, to all the couture garments of your dreams. After an image is uploaded, the software searches more than 250 high street retailers to find a store that carries the item or one like it. The app also allows the user to alert them when items on their wishlists go on sale. “Visual search is a sector of computer science which teaches a computer how to see,” Griffiths said in an interview with Computer “It comes naturally to humans, but to computers it’s just a bunch of pixels, so we’ve managed to program a computer to see colours, shapes, and even textures.” Anywhere we go, everywhere we turn, lies opportunity to discover the pieces that complete our closets and where to find them instantly.

Christina Mercando D’Avignon, Ringly

For some women, the flashiness of most smart accessories isn’t as desirable as product designed to disguise seamlessly into our everyday wear. The idea behind Ringly, a fashion tech startup founded by designer Christina Mercando d’Avignon, is built with discreteness, simplicity, and wearability in mind. She saw a market lacking an attractive product capable of providing only the relevant information and updates she needs, without it being too distracting to what she was doing or who she was with. The result is a collection of semi-precious smart rings, compatible with both iOS and Android, and a simple solution to never again fret about missing an important call when your iphone is buried into the abyss that is, let’s face it, most of our handbags.

Extremely user friendly, Ringly connects to a wearer’s phone through its app, where they can then tailor their alerts. From calls and messages, to calendar alerts and facebook notifications, the user can choose to be notified only if, say, a call from the sitter comes through. Beneath polished black onyx or rosy pink chalcedony is a Bluetooth receiver and other high-tech gizmos that make the ring buzz and/or flash when you receive what you’ve deemed as important notifications. It’s like a 21st century pager for your finger.

“No screws, no plastics, no buttons, no USB ports,” Mercando D’Avigon told Wareable. “It looks like a ring, and with it sitting next to another cocktail ring, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. That’s part of the magic of what we do. It’s a really difficult design challenge to make the technology disappear.” D’Avignon told Wareable that the vibration motor in the rings is like “a personal assistant, tapping you on the shoulder.” It’s even packaged innovatively, delivered in a ring box that doubles as a charger. Fashion forward and practical, Ringly is an effortlessly chic solution to keep you connected to the people who matter most.

Wray Serna, Cloth

It’s your closet gone digital and for anyone who’s ever selfied an #OOTD, Cloth requires very little by way of explanation. This iOS app lets a user take photos of outfits then save, categorize, and share them.“It’s important to see all of your outfits laid out in one place,” fashion designer and Cloth cofounder Wray Serna told In the App Store, where there are more than a few solutions for snapping, saving, and sharing your outfits with other, none offer as clean a user experience as Cloth. Developing a personal style is easier to acquire when you’re able to see your wardrobe organized into outfits that you can scroll through in seconds. Wardrobe gaps are plain to spot and fill with new items, not to mention how speedy the process of getting ready becomes without needing to try on everything in your closet to put your best look together.

The images you capture can be allotted to one of several categories (such as work or evening) and tagged (season, color, designer, etc). You can also leave notes and save images directly to your device's photo album. Cloth is your personal wardrobe manager, providing best options for the current weather, asking friends to weigh in on outfits before a big first date or job interview, and overall a great mechanism to discover your most flattering looks and catalogue them for future reference. If the idea strikes as strangely familiar, it is. As points out, “There are many memorable scenes from the [movie] Clueless, but for most fashion fanatics, the one that stands out best is Cher scrolling through her virtual closet on her computer.” Cloth is practically the same concept, with a technological makeover that makes Cher’s virtual closet completely outdated.

Technology for women, by women, and there’s no sign of the female force in the fashion tech world slowing down anytime soon. As we venture into spring, the season of reorganizing, deep cleaning, and reinventing one’s self, ICONHOUSE recommends a digital upgrade for yourself as well. Embrace the ease these new products provide and enjoy the experience of the new ways of fashion. And welcome to the future.

By Jessica Aurell