This week, 500 wearable fanatics descended upon the MaRS Discovery District to attend the latest We Are Wearables Toronto meetup. In addition to a keynote by Ear-o-Smart President Ravinder Saini, this month’s event was notable for its standout panel on women and wearables. Featuring a broad cross section of panelists (disclosures here), the discussion was a stream of insights and honesty.
Ali Nawab, CEO and Co-Founder of Kiwi Wearables, for example, was quite honest about his company’s experience targeting a wearable product for men and watching it hit better with women. Admitting that a lot of wearable development is currently “just guesswork,” Nawab was able to extract a truth not often discussed. “We look at wearables as the next step from mobile phones,” he continued, “but that’s turning out not to be true.”
women spend so much money on accessories… why are we still a niche market for wearables? #WWTO
— Tara Robertson (@taraarobertson) February 4, 2015
Of course, the wearable sector is still very nascent. So nascent, in fact that Marie Mahony, Professor of Material Art + Design at OCAD, described it as the “jockstrap sports bra stage” of industrial development (Google it). The entire panel agreed that the nascency of wearable tech requires interdisciplinary teams of engineers, designers, and – yes – women, to ensure that market assumptions are approached honestly, and validated.
Everyone on #wwto agrees that interdisciplinary teams are necessary. Also drawing line between design partnerships and branding partnership
— Douglas Tr0n Soltys (@tron) February 4, 2015
As jewellery designer Shay Lowe so aptly put it, product assumptions of what men want are as common as those for women, they’re just more varied. There is no perfect wearable for women; there are just wearables, and women.
Photos courtesy Tarsipix Studios.