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Image via Levi's
Cute and practical, Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard by Google Trucker Jacket has got it all. The unexpected collab debuted in 2015 with an official release in 2017 and again in 2019. Though it looks like classic Levis denim, it’s the first-ever smart jacket with embedded devices.
With the high price tag of $350USD, the initial launch misfired. The innovation of the jacket was not worth a monthly grocery bill, for many. In 2019 the smart jacket was reinvented and has since been successful. The company listened to the customer’s concerns and the rerelease had the strategy to make this jacket as successful as it should be.
In the left cuff of the jacket is a dongle, which is where the magic happens. Simple touch technology can be programmed with different controls corresponding to different actions. The product comes with an IOS and Android compatible app, to help you set up the commands.
The jacket can control your music, take photos, make phone calls and even comes with a Google Assistant, that makes the possibilities really endless. The jacket can perform 19 different commands, and will even vibrate with incoming notifications to your device. Many customers had concerns about washing their jacket, but Levi’s reassured the public that the small technology inside the sleeve can be unplugged before washing.
Gif via PopularMechanics
Jacquard thread is a very thin metallic material that is often combined with natural materials such as silk or in this case cotton. The incorporation of this thread retains touch sensitivity that is vital for allowing the dongle to function. The dainty thread is indistinguishable in the jacket despite only being sewn in with the left cuff. The use of jacquard thread is pivotal in combining fashion with technology, not just for Levi’s, but for all brands.
Though the technology offered by Levis continuously proves its success, many are reluctant to utilize this new tech. We get it, change is scary. Many have concerns about privacy and physical safety when it comes to wearable devices, but even with rigorous trials, they remain unenthused.
Public response is a big reason many innovations in the fashion world don’t take off. When it comes to wearable tech many people deem it unnecessary and expensive. The truth is, sometimes advancements are too ahead of their time. Many think that Levi’s skipped a few steps and that’s the reason people are reluctant to adapt to new tech. But from smartphones to Fitbits to an AppleWatch that essentially performs the same as the Levis x Google jacket, their path was quite linear.
Image via Vogue
As previously mentioned, the initial launch in 2017 was pretty unsuccessful. Flaws in the marketing and product design set this product up to flop. But two short years later the public loves it, even though nothing really changed.
High Price Tag
The cost of this jacket was a deal breaker for many who were interested. Denim jackets are widely available and many even opt to buy their outerwear secondhand for less than $20. Although the tech is cool, $350 for a jacket is out of reach for many.
Although in their second launch Levi’s said this jacket was a staple for anyone on the go, it is an optimal purchase for urban cyclists. It’s a creative way to minimize the safety risk of texting and driving (on a bike) but that situation applies to a pretty narrow audience. Many find it unnecessary, considering the portability of modern smartphones.
The Wrong Audience
Advancements like this really have no place at the mall. The average shopper won’t consider this a clothing item, but rather a device. Rarely will their purchase intention of a jacket be fulfilled by this tech jacket.
The marketing that came with the 2017 launch left the impression that their newest project was something innovative, fun and cool. Though these are attention grabbers, when the words get thrown around too much the public starts to think that the product may have a short-lived hype making it an unworthy investment. The advertising in the months leading up to a launch are essential to predict future product performance.
In their second launch, Levis instead advertised the jacket as essential and practical for everyone, not just the urban cyclist. On top of this, they reduced the price by over $150. The second launch was much more successful and still remains for sale today
Gif via Levi's
After the launch with Levis flopped in 2017, Google quickly partnered with the luxury brand Saint Laurent to release a similarly useful backpack. The launch was less directed at cyclists and more at the general public. Unfortunately, the bag comes with a luxury price tag too. $1000 for a black backpack is not cheap, and it doesn’t help that the design is a bit plain.
In the last few years, Google has also created tech products with Adidas and Samsonite. With the success of recent releases, many brands are understanding how their product can be advanced to incorporate wearable technologies.