Can wearable technology ever be stylish? That is the question that former Burberry boss Angela Ahrendts, alongside Apple’s burgeoning team of fashion and design talent, has been brought in to answer as the company launched its first piece of wearable technology – the Apple Watch.
And despite Ahrendts being absent from the stage at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts today, the Apple Watch collection bears the unmistakable imprimatur of the company’s new head of retail.
“We set out to make the best watch in the world,” Said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, before finally revealing the tech world’s worst kept secret, the Apple Watch. “We’ve been working incredibly hard for a long time on an entirely new product. And we believe this product will redefine what people expect from its category.”
The launch of three distinct collections – Apple Watch, Sport and Apple Watch Edition – mimicked the traditions of a fashion brand, with each collection aimed at a different demographic, with the latter clearly designed to capture the luxury fashion customer.
Jony Ive, Apple’s vice-president of design, has overseen a range of watches that boast numerous digital functions including sensory touch, interfacing and “a rotary dial that translate into data” (a scroll button). But the emphasis was also on a watch that “is as much about technology as it is style and taste”.
By creating a collection (in stores spring 2015) that features entry point watches at $349 (£217) alongside the sleekly designed – and almost certainly more expensive – Apple Watch Edition devices, which resemble high-end luxury jewellery, Apple’s design team has succeeded in overseeing a product whose aesthetic meets the standards of its technology.
“Apple is treating wearable technology the way that a fashion house treats an accessories line,” said Ben Thompson, editor of Statchery.com. “They have always created fashionable products but where they found the biggest success was personal devices.
“If you look at the way handbags have become statement items, and your choice of handbag tells the world something about who you are, I suspect that Apple will be going this way with the wearables. They’ll begin with two prototype products and later there will more options to follow, and the hope is to create something that becomes as successful as the luxury handbag market.”