U.K.-based fashion retailer Topshop announced an annual wearable competition, Top Pitch, earlier this year. It is aimed at startups and entrepreneurs working on smart clothing and wearables.
The first competition came to a close this week, with Topshop selecting The Crated’s heated jacket as the winner. The jacket integrates circuitry into the textiles that can perform a range of functions, in this case, heat up the jacket in cold weather.
The Crated founder Madison Maxey developed the material, know as INTELiTEX, at an AutoDesk residency. Integrating circuitry with textiles gives the startup more room to acquire data (on the user and the environment), while also blending it into the clothes.
“We’re excited that big, high-street retailers like Topshop are seeing wearables as something that’s more than a gimmick, but as a true and useful consumer product sector,” said Maxey to Wareable. “Being part of the Top Pitch programme allowed us to understand how Topshop is viewing the smart clothing market and how startups like ourselves can create tools and technologies that feed into that view.”
But a win means what to finalists?
What happens now is a bit vague. Topshop said it will continue to invest in the three finalists; The Crated getting more money as the winners, but the retailer hasn’t confirmed whether it will produce the heated jacket and sell it in stores any time soon.
It is at least a sign that fashion retailers are starting to get serious about the advantages of wearables. For too long, we’ve been stuck with wrist wearables as the de-facto way to check heart-rate, steps taken, and rest, despite the wrist being a lackluster way to measure this data.