While Ralph Lauren is always a popular choice for the preppy Northeasterners that flock to the U.S. Open, the polo-emblazoned attire will play a different role at this year’s tournament. The label will be outfitting ball boys with their entry-product into the wearable tech market, making Ralph Lauren the first mainstream fashion label to debut this type of wearable technology.
Ball boys will wear sleek nylon shirts with oversized polo players that track the wearer’s heart rate, steps, calories burned, breathing and stress levels. All the info tracked by the shirt will be conveniently displayed on an iPhone app or a computer screen at no price to the wearer. Wearable tech has a tendency to be clunky or obtrusive, but Ralph Lauren’s version is simply an athletic-fitting black T-shirt with a conductive silver-coated thread woven out of sight into the fabric.
Ralph Lauren intends to help consumers integrate these types of helpful statistics into everyday life. In the first half of next year, it plans to unveil a line of classic dress shirts with the same capability of the black T-shirts on display at the Open. The shirts are made in collaboration with leading biometric smartwear company OM. OM, which has already created a line of wearable tech, will bring the expertise, while Ralph Lauren will make it look good. It’s all the beginning of what Ralph Lauren projects to be a multi billion-dollar business that will fuse technology and fashion.
Clearly, Ralph Lauren has not let its failed experiment with tech in the ‘90s, when it tested carbon-fiber jeans and ski jackets with MP3s players sewn into the sleeves, keep it away from this territory. David Lauren, the executive vice president for advertising, marketing, and corporate communications for Ralph Lauren, and son of the designer, said simply about the past attempt, “Not everyone knew how to use MP3 players.”
The future of wearable tech grows increasingly brighter by the day. With Ralph Lauren’s hat in the ring, and Apple’s All-Star team of high-fashion veterans, good-looking and helpful wardrobe additions are on the way.