ShiftWear has created a new pair of sneakers that I think should scare the hell out of the fashion industry because these simple looking shoes could democratize design and potential completely distributing the fashion industry and sneaker game.
You can see in the video below that these new shoes some with a flexible e-paper display that allows you to use an app to custom the look of your shoes with designs and even animations. Like all wearables, I was worried about the battery life but was very happy to see that the battery that powers the displays lasts up to 30 days and charges wirelessly while you walk so you don’t need to do something as awkward as plugging in your shoes to charge them. The shoes are waterproof and machine washable so they aren’t some precious piece of technology you are going to break a week after you get them when you are caught in a rain storm.
Consumers can get designs and animation through a design marketplace where they can buy the works of famous artists or they have the ability to create your own. I am curious to see how robust this is going to be and what all you can do with it but the thought of being able to design something and throwing it on something you are wearing instantly is really cool. The sneakers come in three different style, range in price from $150-$350, will ship in fall of 2016 and the app is expected to be compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows devices. You can find out more about the shoes and put in your pre-order here.
Putting the tech aside, I think what’s REALLY interesting is the potential for this technology to redefine the entire relationship between consumers and branding for the fashion industry. This new style of technology where the surfaces of the clothing or shoes can be changed on the fly will really redefine the role of the fashion designer and relationship between the brand and the consumer. It’s a model much more like a smartphone where you buy the technology as a platform and then the consumer customizes it with their own digital and physical designs on that base form. You can easily see how if you bought a pair of Louis Vuitton shoes the shell of the shoe would have premium materials and look like an LV sneaker but then it would come with a custom LV sneaker app and custom textures that were available just for that shoe. It also opens up a whole new world for retailers and designers, much like smartphone apps or video games, where the manufacturer would then be able to get micro-purchases for incremental revenue through consumers buying additional new designs and animations. The thought of buying one shirt that would be able to display all the new patterns of a fashion designer’s entire line is really interesting and exciting not to mention the fact that they would be able to introduce motion into their work.
I can see how other industries would jump also on to this new potential platform. Advertisers would want to go after people to become human billboards and the cooler the person was, the higher their influence would be and the more it would cost to advertise on their clothes. Retailers would try to drive you into their stores so they could get special limited time designs for their digital clothing with the purchase of a new item. Designs could be contextual so they are location based and change depending on your location or are day parted so they would become bright yellow for safety if you were running. You can keep going with a lot of interesting ideas for what would be possible for a new platform like this.
I have ordered my pair. I am very curious to see if the final product can live up to the hype of the video they created but I am also very curious to see what is going to happen with this new platform and how it will disrupt the concept of fashion.