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Fashion & Technology: A Match Made in Heaven or Hell?

Last week Dell hosted an event intended to unite the worlds of fashion and technology bloggers. Their goal was to discuss how technology could be re-positioned as fashion in order to sell it to women.

Last week Dell hosted an event intended to unite the worlds of fashion and technology bloggers. Their goal was to discuss how technology could be re-positioned as fashion in order to sell it to women.

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With Microsoft’s research highlighting that technology is as important to women as fashion, should tech brands be positioning their wares as fashion accessories? Does it correlate that women love fashion and therefore if you position technology as fashion, women will want to buy it? Is a netbook the latest fashion accessory? Would women rather have the new Dell Adamo XPS rather than a pair of Jimmy Choos?

It’s not an original idea to try to sell technology as if it were a fashion accessory. LG’s Prada phone was the first time a major fashion brand put it’s label on a phone. Despite it’s modest capabilities it sold well, proving the allure and reach of the Prada brand.

Few woman have a strong attachment to technology brands – in such a vaccum a strong brand like Prada can help shift products, even if it does seem out of place on the shelves of the Carphone Warehouse. I suspect that the Prada label puts off as many women as it attracts, since there is something frivolous about being seen to flaunt a label, especially on a something as conspicuous as a phone.

There’s a big problem with the technology as fashion proposition:

Firstly, fashion is by nature short term. After a single season your old fashion is out of fashion. That’s perfectly fine for a £20 top from Top-Shop, however it’s not so fine when you are locked into a two year contract on a fashion-phone which is no longer a-la-mode.

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If the networks are going to sell a phone on a 2 year contract they need to continue to offer value over this period or risk alienating the customer.

Secondly, the reasons I buy technology are very different to why I buy clothes. Technology enhances my life, builds real and intimate connections with people. It gives me a voice. And amplifies my voice to those closest to me. Fashion is transitory. I get immediate gratification but its fleeting. Its fun but not meaningful. Brands risk trivializing themselves by positioniong themselves as fashion.

Lastly, every tech brand seems to take this approach to women. Samsung’s Genio talks about it’s exciting colours but does not mention what value it can add. Dell’s “my colour is pink” tv-spot looks like a mid-90s’ shoe advert. This is clearly not a way to generate sustainable difference.

As one Lady Geek said,

“What my phone and shoes do for me are very different. One connects me with the world and is about relationships. The other is solely just for me”

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To truly understand women, tech brands must research and understand how women engage with technology in the real world.  They would understand that Fashion is about ‘me,’ technology is about ‘we.’  Two very different propositions in my world.

To hear more from the Lady Geeks, click here.

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