Kindred Spirits: Tech and Fashion

Moschino X Samsung Note 3

Who was there first?

We know Apple hitched a ride on Burberry Prorsum’s SS2014 show in London, touting the iPhone 5S before its launch with a one-and-half-minute teaser and a 15-minute video captured on the handset. Christopher Bailey was quoted in an Apple press release: “This collaboration celebrates our relationship and shared foundation in design and craftsmanship. We have a mutual passion for creating beautiful products and unlocking emotive experiences through technology, which has made it intensely exciting to explore the capabilities of iPhone 5S.” I suppose it has nothing to do with the target audience such as Sienna Miller and Harry Styles sitting in the front row, or their millions of followers, or what’s trending.

The Burberry collection seen with an iPhone 5S

The Burberry collection seen with an iPhone 5S

But Apple was not the only tech giant to share the clout of some brands during fashion week. In a blog posted on Samsung Tomorrow, Samsung was in Milan “to help celebrate Moschino’s 30th anniversary this year “, showing off not just its soon-to-be-released Galaxy Note 3, but the Galaxy Gear as well. It is, of course, rather curious that a three-decade-old label should need the assistance of a hand phone maker ten years its junior. This, however, was not Samsung’s first fashion week appearance. In New York earlier, the phablet and watch appeared in Dana Lorenz’s Fallon runway that was essentially an accessory presentation.

It’s not hard to see that there’s something mutually beneficial here. Despite the massive unsolicited publicity hand-phone launches receive these days, fashionable is not an attribute that can be immediately dialled up. In the first quarter of last year, Samsung Electronics was crowned the world’s largest phone maker by unit sales, not surprising since its handsets, particularly the Galaxy series, have been all the rage. But popular does not necessarily mean cool, the one quality always associated with Apple. By hobnobbing with fashion labels during the most important days of the ready-to-wear calendar, Samsung could see the cool factor of its products inch up.

Similarly, while fashion may have become a global circus, as IHT’s Suzy Menkes so rightly pointed out recently, not many brands are as tech-savvy as the ever-streaming/posting Burberry. Moschino, not in the collective memory of the world’s fashionistas for a long time, could really reach out to a Tweeter-mad generation by showing smart phones alongside smart suits.

These tech giant are, in fact, a little slow to the game. Fashion has been a marketing medium for a while to non-clothing brands, especially drinks: Coke Light has ensnared Lagerfeld’s silhouette for its cans, Evian has allowed Lacroix to pattern its glass bottles, while Piper-Heidsieck Champagne’s opaque bouteilles wear Gaultier‘s corset and, this year, fishnet stockings. Despite the arguments against carbonated drinks, alcoholic or not, when designers are associated with them, imbibing them may, for a moment, not be harmful to health.

Although it is doubtful that there will be a co-branded Burberry iPhone or a Moschino Galaxy Note, these exercises in mutual admiration can only become more evident and frequent, and as persistent as celebrities in the front row.

Photos: Samsung Tomorrow, Burberry

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