Desirability is everything
I hear and read much talk about the future direction of digitally integrated apparel or 3D printed garments but little of it includes discussion about the desirability of the aforementioned innovation.
Desirability with regards to product is an outcome of design and marketing functioning as one effective practice. How this symbiotic relationship is achieved is a discussion for another post but we can be clear that creating desirability from a customer perspective cannot exist without both departments. For further reading I would recommend 'Baked in' by Alex Bogusky & John Winsor.
So how do we achieve it?
Sir Jonny Ive spoke about his own design practice and what he referred to as ‘The Squishy Stuff’. It’s the essential part of the design process that isn’t colour or aesthetic but the fundamental way people respond to a product based on its design. For Sir Ive, it meant adding a physical handle to the desktop apple mackintosh, in order for the technology to be approachable and welcomed into people’s homes as personal computers. At the time computers were ugly and daunting and it was the design that adjusted the users perception of an incredible innovation.
We can see how from a design perspective, it’s essential that the product fits into the Zeitgeist of the time when it’s released. Far too many products are released before society recognizes the value or desirability of the proposition and we don’t have to look far to find them. Take the Sony Glasstron for example, a head mounted display, only several iterations from The Samsung Gear VR headset or Google Glass.
In this vein, when we look at the desirability of digitally connected apparel we need to be asking ourselves, how does it make people feel when they wear it? What space does it occupy in their minds?, is it playful? Is it serious? All of these considerations directly inform the proposition when you consider bringing an innovation in apparel to market and therefore require that it’s considered at the very beginning.