Apple keeps a close watch on trends

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Apple keeps a close watch on trends

There were various reviews and predictions for the Apple Watch announcement on Sept. 9. And although it was not the first smart wearable product, the item garnered special attention.

Fashion industry insiders had interesting responses. The Apple Watch is certainly more stylish than existing smartwatches, but the design is not as sophisticated as regular timepieces. Yet they weren’t skeptical of its trendiness, and many thought it would be a hit item.

The prediction is based on the power of trends in fashion. The most beautiful product doesn’t always become the winner; experience has taught us that mass desire can be unreasonable.

Leggings are one such example. In the mid-2000s, leggings appeared on runways as ’80s fashion returned, but until spring 2006, they didn’t get much attention. People thought they resembled thermals and were too casual. Women also thought it was hard to look good in them.

However, they became an instant hit for three reasons. Firstly, U.S. clothing manufacturer American Apparel chose leggings as one of its core items. Consumers instantly took note.

Also, leggings grew in popularity with skinny jeans, and fashion reporters and trendsetters supported the trend. Magazines featured ways to wear leggings and celebrities were seen wearing them, according to the “Sociology of Trends” by Guillaume Erner.

Compared to leggings, the Apple Watch is in a far better situation. In addition to Apple’s brand power, the watch’s marketability could be boosted by the latest trend in the market, where style is emphasized over functionality. Apple invited fashion reporters to the unveiling event of the prototype and earned their support.

Apple also made another critical move. On Sept. 30, the Apple Watch made its first public appearance at Paris Fashion Week. Fashion industry heavyweights such as Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld and Vogue editor Anna Wintour were invited to see it at Colette, a trendsetting boutique in Paris. Here, New Balance sneakers and Kiehl’s cosmetics emerged from regional brands to global brands. It was a straightforward, charismatic strategy that proved Apple can promote anything it wants to.

As Apple Watch is released next year, it is still too early to tell if it will become a trend. But it is clear that Apple knows how to use its power to drive consumption and take advantage of fashion. The prediction that it will be competing against not just Samsung or Google but Swiss watchmakers is significant.

This time it’s a watch, but no one knows what Apple will present next to lure consumers. But my mailbox is filled with press releases from fashion companies ambitiously announcing cliche product placements or collaborations.

The author is a reporter from the JoongAng Sunday JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 2, Page 38


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