Paris: Paris show displays ‘smart’ denims that can give you street directions and send e-mail alerts
A young man in a white T-shirt pulls on a dark blue denim trucker jacket, tucks his smartphone in an inside pocket and puts in-ear headphones in his right ear. He mounts a fixed-gear bike with flat, slightly curved wide handlebars. Riding through the streets of San Francisco, he occasionally taps or swipes his right hand over the left cuff of his jacket, as the directions he’s listening to continually pop up on the screen of this advertisement.
It’s an ad from iconic U.S. jeans maker Levi Strauss for Project Jacquard, an initiative with Google that the companies started two years ago for so-called “smart” denim.
The future of the popular fabric was the focus at a recent international fashion fair in Paris.
The fair featured many wearable innovations such as a waterproof jacket with sunscreen bands and a cable in the pocket to recharge a cellphone, or jeans that keep your body temperature stable. Once mainly the purview of athletic gear — with moisture-wicking shirts and trousers and then clothing that can track motion, heart rate, and body temperature — the new trend for fashion designers is to take everyday wear and transform it using new technologies.
French-based fashion company Spinal Design, for example, has created jeans that can give wearers directions without having to whip out the mobile at every single intersection. Through Bluetooth sensors stitched into the jeans’ waistband, the smartphone stays out of sight. “Sensors will vibrate right if you need to turn right, left if you need to turn left,” said Spinal’s innovation director Romain Spinal.
In 2015, the company designed a bikini that tells women when it’s time to apply more sunscreen. The two-piece retails for €149 euros (Rs 10,500) and comes with a detachable ultraviolet sensor that, through a smartphone or tablet, sends a “sunscreen alert” when the sunbather’s skin needs more cream.
The Spinal jeans, made in France, cost €150 euros and also have e-mail notification capabilities. “They will vibrate differently depending on whether the message received is from your family, your friends or work, in a way that you won’t have to constantly check your e-mail on weekends or on vacation,” Mr. Spinal said.
On their end, Google and Levi expect to release their denim jacket sometime this year, but it will come with a hefty $350 (Rs 22,500) price tag due in part to its special interactive fabric that allows the jacket’s wearer to order various products online.