Awear Embeds Clothes with Microchips So You Can Shop the Streets
Most fashion lovers can relate to the following scenario: You spot a stranger wearing the perfect piece on the street. A dress, a leather jacket, a great pair of boots — whatever the item, you need to have it. Now. The only problem? You have no idea where she bought it or even what brand it is. Do you settle for never finding the clothing of your dreams, sad as that may be?
Don't be silly! We live in a modern era and there's an app for that! Or there will be, come 2015. A new company called Awear Solutions wants make the real world just as shoppable as the Internet by using hardware and app technology to help you identify the items people on the street are wearing.
Online shopping has come a long way from the traditional e-store models. From shoppable music videos to photo-recognition sites like The Hunt and master shopping search databases on sites like Polyvore, technology makes it pretty easy to find exactly what you're looking for on the Internet. Offline, however, we have to resort to the old-fashioned way — actually asking the question "Where did you find that [fill in the clothing item here]." But sometimes that's just too nerve-wracking or too inconvenient. That's where Awear comes in. Eliza Brooke of Fashionista writes:
Liron Slonimsky, an Israeli writer and now-tech entrepreneur, began working on the idea for Awear after a stranger gave her the cold shoulder for asking who made her bag. By embedding chips in clothing items, anyone with the companion app can scan the product (up to a 30 foot radius) to find out the product information. Should the user find themselves in a coffee shop packed with fashionable folk, they wind up scanning all of the products in the immediate vicinity, which wouldn't take too long to filter through.
If this takes off then the anti-social among us (guilty!) can happily stalk stylish passerby on the street without risking any awkwardness. But that begs the question... can technology like this really become a thing?
The answer is maybe. Awear has already gotten DKNY on board, marking the company's first official partnership with a major label. Both brands teamed up for a high-fashion Easter egg hunt at DKNY's Madison Avenue store this spring. But instead of painted eggshells, shoppers hunted for clothing "tagged with identification chips, discoverable through an app that showed the user if they were getting hotter or colder. Within a few feet, the item would scan and pop up in the app," according to Brooke.
Cool, right? The real world application is entirely dependent on attracting enough brands willing to tag their clothing with the chips. But there are plenty of perks for labels, including better visibility for their product and inexpensive marketing that could boost sales. Beyond that, luxury labels could more effectively battle counterfeiters, attract a wider customer base.
So will you soon be able to shop the looks you see on the street? We can only hope that Awear's app will get the necessary support from the design community to officially launch.