Dec 102011

Figure 1. ThinkGeek Electronic Guitar Tee

Gucci, Louie, Fendi, Prada … Old Navy? Of course a certain Sesame Street song “One of these things is not like the other” springs to mind when reading this list and the odd company out seems grossly apparent. For various factual sociological reasons, the first four brands are synonymous with high quality, wealth, and exclusivity. Old Navy, by very stark contrast, is marked by mass production, affordability, and conformity. But what happens if we shift the parameters by which we are measuring these labels? Let’s look at technological fashion or wearable media. While the major designer labels have made attempts to marry technology and fashion, like Gucci’s Techno Tote or Louis Vuitton’s iPad case,the items do more for brand saturation than they do to actually help with a successful integration of fashion and technology. The consumer is still separate from the technology piece that they wear or use.

Figure 2. Techno Gloves

(Surprisingly) Retail commonplace, Old Navy, could be ahead of the curve over these luxury giants when it comes to making fashion with a cohesive and functioning technical component. Old Navy has released its Technowear line. The three focal pieces are the Techno Hoodie, ThinkGeek Electronic Guitar Tee, and the Techno Glove. While none are profoundly sophisticated or exclusively high fashion, they do provide a great stepping stone of sorts for wearable media. Each of the item promotes the idea that fashion and technology can be seamlessly combined and have both functional and aesthetic value.

Figure 3. Techno Hoodie

In an industry where access to certain fashions and accessories is not equitable, Old Navy’s Technowear provides a small shift for consumers who are interested in having the latest trends but are customarily on the outside of being able to obtain such trends.

Old Navy, of course, is not without its contraindications. While making wearable media available to a wider range of people, where money really is an object, Old Navy still manages to exclude certain groups from its products.

While Old Navy offers a Plus Size selection, not all of the Technowear items are available in these sizes. Where one barrier to inclusion is broken, another is erected in its place.

  One Response to “Affordability and Accessibility in Wearable Media”

  1. I saw the adverts for the new Old Navy Techno World and it also seemed as if they were marketing more towards boys than girls – or at least certain products seemed geared towards certain genders. I have always found it very interesting that the three brands under the GAP label offer very similar but very distinct products, all designed for a different type of person. While this techno clothing seems to fit at Old Navy, I would never anticipate seeing these products under the other brands. There seems to be a stigma against blatant technology used in higher fashion and a very distinct difference between fashion that allows for the potential to integrate with a current technology (hats with integrated headphones) and fashion that is technology (shirts that play music).

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