2012 in Review

Fashion Tech’s Breakout Year: Google Glass, Zozocolle & More (Photos)

A tweeting dress, Google Glass at DVF, and more innovations for a cool new future. By Misty White Sidell.

By Misty White Sidell


The late great Alexander McQueen was once quoted as saying, “As for the future, technology is what will move fashion forward.” And in 2012, his words couldn’t have been more true. The past year was filled with technological innovation in shopping, fashion design, accessories, and presentation. From a tweet-displaying dress to a pair of brainwave-operated cat ears, read on to learn about fashion’s high-tech creations from the past 12 months.


CuteCircuit’s LED Dress

Twitter is often flooded with celebrity style criticism. This year, London-based CuteCircuit turned the tables, creating a tweet-bearing LED dress worn by former Pussycat Dolls frontwoman Nicole Scherzinger. The dress, which can be charged by a USB cable, displayed Twitter updates (with the hashtag #Tweetthedress) across its voluminous skirt.

Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty

Burberry’s Tech-Savvy New Store

Burberry was recently named fashion’s best social-media company, beating out Louis Vuitton and Valentino. Following suit, they opened a high-tech flagship boutique on London’s Regent Street in September. The plush 44,000-square-foot space is loaded with 100 screens and 500 speakers. Merchandise is woven with RFID chips that trigger specially targeted media to appear on screens as you peruse. Mirrors can instantly turn into video screens that play special runway and brand footage.

Sam Gangwer/The Orange County Register/ZUMAPRESS.com, via Newscom

Lilypad Arduino

This arduino, or small programming board, can be sewn into garments to power clothing. It only costs only about $25, and measures 2 inches in diameter, but according to a MIT tutorial it lets you “build your own soft, interactive fashion.” The little electronic board is fully washable and has endless applications—like powering a turn signal biking jacket or a heat-sensitive light up Hello Kitty hoodie.

Thomas Samson/AFP, via Getty

Band of Outsiders Online Fashion Show

Band of Outsiders, a cool-kid Los Angeles brand designed by Scott Sternberg, took an alternative approach to Paris Men’s Fashion Week over the summer. Rather than stage a runway show, Sternberg and his crew decided to create a presentation that was part art installation, part digital experiment. Staging what they called the “longest [fashion] show ever,” Band cast a model to sit in the window of an anonymous Paris art gallery for 60 hours dressed head-to-toe in their wares. And all of his actions (eating, sleeping, and tinkering with toys included) were broadcast over the Internet.

PRNewsFoto/NeuroSky, via AP

Necomimi’s Moving Cat Ears

“See what makes your ears wiggle,” reads tech brand Necomimi’s website, advertising the company’s brainwave cat ears. Released this year, the ears detect your brain’s electronic pulses with a forehead sensor, displaying different movements for various states of relaxation and focus. The basic set costs $99.95. For an additional $19.95, get an interchangeable pair of ears in leopard print or obsidian-black fabric.

Chris Jackson/Getty for Vodafone

Richard Nicoll’s Phone-Charging Handbag

When Richard Nicoll teamed up with cellular company Vodaphone this past February, one objective was clear—create a stylish carryall that charges cellphones. And the It-Brit designer delivered with an all-white tote bag that, while admittedly Hermès-y, offers one feature that every girl wishes their own purse included. When fully charged, the bag can power up phones and MP3 players for approximately two days on-the-go.

www.chloe .com

KCD’s Digital Fashion Show Platform

KCD is often recognized as the fashion industry’s top public-relations firm, and its band of smooth operators is also responsible for fashion show production for the likes of Marc Jacobs. So this past January, when the company announced it was launching an invite-only digital-fashion-show platform, the news made sense. KCD’s technology (which has already been used by labels like Pierre Balmain and See by Chloé) is accessible by computer or mobile device, allowing buyers and editors a full-spectrum account of designers’ vision for the season. The platform’s pre-taped shows provide video, detail shots, and hair and makeup info to plugged-in invitees, who need not leave the comfort of their office chair.

Seth Wenig/AP

DVF Debuts Google Glass

It’s not often that you’ll catch Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, sitting front-row at a fashion show. But in September, he sat proud as a peacock at Diane Von Furstenberg’s spring show, where his tech giant unveiled its Google Glass technology. The company says the mysterious innovation “lets you capture moments from a unique, new perspective,” which translates to projecting real-time information inside the lenses based on where you are and what you’re doing. The reveal meant outfitting models, production crew, and Von Furstenberg herself in Google’s video-enhancing eyeglasses, later compiling their footage into an intriguing YouTube video that gave a bird’s eye of New York Fashion Week. The glasses’ official release date is still being debated, but a developer’s version will reportedly become available in early 2013 at the cost of $1,500.

Japan’s ZozoColle Trade Show

Leave it to the Japanese to turn the concept of shopping on its head. Zozotown, one of the world’s largest shopping sites, held its first major trade show this September. ZozoColle, held just outside of Tokyo, was part exhibition, part shopping extravaganza, open to buyers for free and to the public with $12 tickets. Everyday consumers, though, were the ones who had the most fun—buying clothing a whole season ahead of time. Shoppers were outfitted with special QR code IDs that were hooked up to their credit cards and home addresses, eradicating the need to use a physical card, or even cash. Even more tech-savvy: the event’s assortment of animated kawaii screens displayed purchases in real-time, keeping a running list of the day’s most popular styles.