Will.i.am.everyone? Promises of Fashionology (Fashion+Tech) was a Letdown

October 16, 2014

Observing the unveiling of Puls, the latest wearable co-created by musician will.i.am last night was interesting, but overall disappointing.

The technology aspect was great, I was intrigued by this wrist wearable that did not need to pair with a phone, and that it had some artificial intelligence built in he termed "Aneeda" (as in, I need a directions to the store...).
The built-in speaker also sounded like fun, and to give him credit, if will.i.am does one thing right, it is definitely music. Would be fun to rent and try it for a few days without committing to a large long-term investment.

However, he was presenting once again, just another plastic-looking wearable that resembled all the other wrist gadgets out there. (Don't worry it will also come in pink for the girls). I was really hoping that he would be like - "Psych! The phone is actually in this beautiful diamond ring I'm wearing."

Throughout the entire presentation, will.i.am boasted about this device being fashionable. "Finally", he said, "a fashionable wearable phone". No. This is not fashionable.

The main issue I have with this tired approach, is that these devices rip apart the individuality that makes personal style so wonderfully accessible in the first place. Fashion, as in High Fashion, is an industry. An industry that aims to lead the way to inspire trends and give ideas to individuals for new things to wear and try out. If we all tried to keep up with the high prices and fast turnovers of that industry, we would all be out of energy and cash. That is why fashion you see on the runway is really not a standard, it is an idea, an inspiration, an art form. When these wearables try to stuff themselves within that category, it's not going to work, they need a new approach.

AndrĂ© Leon Talley, (above) one of the biggest name's in fashion, invested in the project.

I enjoyed the jacket and watch displayed on the catwalk, however I have delicate wrists and hardly wear the same accessory or jacket everyday, so very curious about who will don the phone cuff or smart wear with the giant white logo splashed across the front.

I have a sinking feeling that kids will. The same kids that begged their parents for an expensive pair of Beats by Dre , in order to align with everyone else and to say, "in the midst of a recession, I'm doing just fine, I'm well off enough to afford to keep up with the industry, I'm doing just fine." (In unison of course).

With a man so passionate about helping women and children who live in the ghetto, he is sending mixed messages. Will the people of Boyle Heights be able to afford these new devices and accessories? Will they pay rent just a little late to get one of the jackets? How soon will everything be updated and replaced with the next version, a year? 6 months? 3 months?

Stop selling us more overpriced plastic wristbands will.i.am. At the very least, please stop claiming it to be fashionable. If you are truly the fashionable philanthropist you claim to be, forget the pre-made band, and give us cheap and easy access to a chipset, a developer kit, give us access to some new, open source technology so we can decide how to make things unique, original, fresh, and stylish in our own way.

I drew this as a reaction to the presentation. With kids trying so hard to fit in and keep up with the mainstream, when will they discover that it's ok to be unique and original? If the fashion industry continues to accept these blind forms of technology, maybe the kids too will forget the meaning of unique, and end up trapped behind a cycle of updated electronic uniforms.

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