Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

Johnny Weir's Tweet-activated Brooch Is Latest Fashion Tech Misfire

johnny weir brooch pin
johnny weir tara lipinski

There’s no doubt that technology and fashion are desperately seeking ways to combine their superpowers.  The market is seeing everything from 3D printed running sneakers to smart shirts.  But when it comes to tech, fashion, and social media, it seems three’s a crowd.  Johnny Weir’s Kentucky Derby wardrobe is proof.

The former Olympic figure skating superstar wore a pink-tailed racehorse brooch that lit up whenever someone tweeted using the hashtag ‘WatchMeNeighNeigh’.  Though I rightfully give kudos for hashtag creativity, I can’t help but view this as a bit cheesy.  Full of kitsch, the brownie points for the Viget-designed brooch don’t outweigh the overt desperation for social media influence.

We saw a similar, yet more glamorous, attempt at this with Karolina Kurkova’s IBM-enhanced Marchesa dress at last week’s Met Gala.  Her gown was embroidered with 150 LED-connected flowers.  The color of the flowers changed based on the mood of tweets associated with the two hashtags #MetGala and #CognitiveDress.  While the end result was most certainly a beauty to behold, the light colors didn’t seem to alternate all that often.  Instead of an innovative tech creation, it just seemed like she was wearing a really pretty dress.

When it comes to actual designs, luxury fashion has always been ahead of the curve.  But in its embrace of technology, the industry seems a little more archaic.  While other industries like transportation and music have found tremendously profitable ways to reinvent themselves in the wake of the current tech boom, fashion seems stuck.  Whether we’re focused on mass market brands or luxury design houses, it seems that no one can really figure out how to adapt.  We’re seeing a lot of change in the role Fashion Weeks play and when designers bring new collections to market.  There’s experimentation with seasons and production cycles.  But in terms of using tech in an inspiring way in the public space, we’re just not seeing it yet.

Sticking tweet-activated pins and flowers on celebrities’ clothing seems like a half-baked idea created at a table full of Baby Boomers.  We need to see something bigger, bolder, and more creative.  Don’t get me wrong-these brands get points for getting out there and trying something new.  They’re just not hitting the mark yet.  Here’s hoping someone can get the fashion/tech blend right.

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