A fashion designer at Google’s annual I/O developer conference? Inconceivable. But with the unveiling of Project Jacquard, Google’s touch-enabled material, it suddenly makes sense that Paul Dillinger, Levi Strauss’s head of global product innovation. could be seen wandering amidst developers.
After all, the world of apps and fashion are about to collide, and Levi’s will be smack in the middle of this transformation.
It’s not the apparel as gadget. It is the apparel as the platform.
“It’s not apparel as host to gadget, it’s not about pockets.” Dillinger says. “It’s not the apparel as gadget. It is the apparel as the platform.”
If you’re worried about how having electronics integrated into your favorite pair of 501s may change the care and feeding of your denim, don’t fret. “Do you wash your jeans? These are going to be jeans. It’s going to be Levi’s,” affirms Dillinger. “We can’t say what the exact garment is going to be, but you’re not going to be asked to use or experience anything different than you’ve already used.”
While rethinking fashion’s new high-tech role in the digital world, Dillinger notes that Jacquard requires thinking about things a little differently. Everything needs to be reconsidered: the frequency of communication during the manufacturing process, the purpose and design of the touch area, global regulatory considerations around the safe disposal of electronics.
And then there’s that new partnership between developers and fashion designers. “We don’t know them, and they don’t know us, but we’re going to get to know each other real quick,” says Dillinger. “Because we really want to accelerate to that point, and increase the value [of our garments] by tapping into that creative pool.” Initially, the Jacquard garments will launch with a suite of apps designed between Levi’s and Google, but Dillinger knows they’ll need the wider support of app developers for Jacquard to go mainstream.
Dillinger fully expects Jacquard to be for everyone, even though initially you can expect a “modest” premium on the garments. As for when you can start controlling your phone with your denim? Start planning your 2016 holiday shopping list: Dillinger says consumers “will their hands on it in fall 2016.”