The TOP Fashion cities in the U.S. are New York, of course, closely followed by Los Angeles with 3,641 designers and over 700 companies just in the L.A Fashion District. Then there are some less obvious ones such as Columbus, Ohio and Nashville, Tennessee and San Francisco home to Levi's and The GAP. But what is taking over the fashion world? It's Wearable Tech, and that is mainly a "California Baby". From accessories, to smart clothing to wearable computing, technology and fashion are coming together mostly in California to make it easier for us to be nerdy & cool at the same time.
Our endless appetite for convenience, health and fitness is what is driving the wearable tech industry which, according to research firm ABI will hit $6 billion by 2018.
Among the "pioneer products" in this sector, we find Smart Watches, which are essentially Smart Phones to wear on our wrists. So far the main problem with these watches has been their bulky look which makes them hard to wear for men and uninteresting to women. This is changing as the industry evolves. For instance, an interesting concept smart watch Creoir, understated and elegant does the job of combining tech and fashion. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrvCAjvcoZU&w=560&h=315]
Even though Tech Giants like Google and Apple are involved, the world of wearable tech is still wide open to newcomers with the right combination of technology and design. Intelligent textiles, smart footwear, eyewear, and even hats and gloves, are just a few among the wide array of wearable tech products being marketed.
I believe that the Italian tradition in fashion clothes and accessories, jewelry and design combined with our rich scientific heritage should make Italy a frontrunner in the exciting field of wearable tech.
For instance, Google certainly has the software and expertise to penetrate this market, but that will not have a big impact if its Google glasses won't be more aesthetically pleasing.
And among the BIG PLAYERS expanding into wearable tech, we already find an Italian company: eyewear giant Luxottica is the best kept secret in the wearable-tech field.
Luxottica is the world's largest eyewear company with a market cap of $26.06 billion thanks to its near monopoly on the industry. It has more than 7,000 locations around the world (including over 2,295 Sunglass Hut locations and 1,178 LensCrafters), and Luxottica-owned EyeMed Vision Care is one of the largest vision health insurers in the United States.
Luxottica already beat Google to the high-tech smart glass market with the Oakley Airwave, and is now already presenting the next generation Oakley Airwave 1.5, the latest in high-tech ski goggle.
For Italian startups needing money to develop their wearable tech product, knocking at Luxottica door could be an option, but I also see a great opportunity to raise capital through CROWDFUNDING.
Crowdfunding works well for wearable tech gadgets (if the campaign is planned well & WE CAN HELP) when startups do not want to give away a big chunck of equity from the get go.
The latest example of wearable tech using crowdfunding is coming from an ex-Apple engineer who is launching Moov, the Next Generation Of Wearable Fitness Tracking, on Crowdfunding platform INDIEGOGO, to raise $40,000.