5 fashion labels working with digital health companies

By Aditi Pai
11:21 am
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Polar Loop CrystalFitness device maker Polar recently launched a new wristworn activity tracking device, called Polar Loop Crystal, in partnership with Swarovski.

Loop Crystal offers the same functionalities and software available in Polar's Loop 2 band, which tracks steps, distance, sleep, and inactivity, but the Loop Crystal is embedded with 30 Swarovski crystals. While the Loop 2 costs $119.95, the Loop Crystal costs $159.95.

Polar is just the latest wearables maker to partner with a designer to create a sleeker, more fashionable offering. Because wearable devices are often worn like accessories, the question of whether these devices are fashionable has been discussed for a number of years.

In 2013, an article in Vogue magazine called the Nike FuelBand “the A-list’s chicest accessory,” in its September issue. The article listed Serena Williams and Kanye among celebrities sporting FuelBand devices around town -- Kanye's next to a Cartier cuff.

But lately, digital health startups have taken it one step further and actually partnering with fashion labels to design and market their devices. Here's a list of five fashion houses that have partnered with digital health startups to develop or redesign digital health wearables. 

Hermes Apple WatchHermes and Apple

One year after Apple unveiled its Apple Watch, in September 2014, the company announced that it was partnering with Hermes, known for its luggage and handbags, specifically the Birkin bag, which costs anywhere between around $10,000 and $100,000.

“Apple and Hermes make very different products, but they reflect the deep appreciation of quality design,” Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, said at the time. “Both companies are motivated by a sincere pursuit of excellence and the desire to create something that is not compromised. Apple Watch Hermes is a true testament to that belief.”

The Hermes Apple Watch line offers three types of bands, the single tour, which wraps around the user's wrist once, the double tour, which wraps around twice, and the cuff, which is a thicker band. All cases are are stainless steel. Prices start at $1,100 for the 38 mm stainless steel case with the single tour, $1,150 for the 42 mm stainless steel case with the single tour, $1,250 for the 38 mm stainless steel case with the double tour, and $1,500 for the 42 mm stainless steel case with the cuff.

Tory Burch FitbitTory Burch and Fitbit

In July 2014, Tory Burch and Fitbit launched a line of accessories -- bracelets and necklaces. The Tory Burch website sports four designer bracelets in printed silicone, and a number of rose gold, gold, and metal bracelets and pendants for holding a Fitbit Flex. Like the Hermes-Apple Watch collection, consumers can purchase a bracelet that wraps around the user's wrist twice or once. The silicone bracelets cost $38, while the others cost between $175 and $195.

“From day one, we’ve known that form factor is crucial to creating a health and fitness tracking device that will fit into people’s lifestyles and become truly ‘wearable,’” Fitbit CEO James Park said in a statement at the time. “We designed Flex with this in mind, but our partnership with Tory Burch has taken wearable device fashion to another level, transforming our Flex tracker into an elegant accessory.”

Ralph Lauren OMSignalRalph Lauren and OMSignal

Ralph Lauren, the fashion label known for their polo shirts and ties partnered with OMSignal, which makes health-sensing apparel. At the US Open in August 2014, Ralph Lauren equipped ball boys with form fitting black tee-shirts, emblazoned with the Ralph Lauren logo, that track the wearer’s biometrics.

“Everyone is exploring wearable tech watches and headbands and looking at cool sneakers,” Ralph Lauren executive vice president for advertising David Lauren told the New York Times in August 2014. “We skipped to what we thought was new, which is apparel. We live in our clothes.”

The shirts measure heart rate, stress, breathing, distance, intensity of movement, and calories burned, and send that data to a user’s smartphone. The shirt, called the PoloTech Shirt, is available on Ralph Lauren's website. It costs $295.

Misfit-Solar-ShineSwarovski and Misfit

Before partnering with Polar, Swarovski partnered with Misfit, maker of the Shine and Flash activity trackers, to create two new versions of the Shine that feature a crystal face and look even more like jewelry than the company’s original polished aluminum device. One of the devices, the violet Swarovski Shine, uses solar charging to stay powered up — sunlight, LEDs, or halogen lighting all keep the device up and running.

Like all Shine devices the two in the Swarovski Shine collection feature a watch battery that have a six month lifespan, according to the company. Swarovski Shine is available in three sets that each include two accessories, and range in price from $169.99 to $249.99. The company now offers nine accessories that work with any Shine device.

Oakley and Intel

Although the offering has not launched yet, earlier this year, Intel announced a strategic partnership with sunglasses maker Oakley. Intel and Oakley plan to build luxury sports eyewear that will include integrated smart technology. The project they are working on, which they said would be unveiled later in the year, is designed to enhance an athlete’s performance.

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