Apple Watch sales may be waning, but that’s not stopping Kate Spade New York from taking a stab at its own version of a smartwatch, due out this November. Through Kate Spade’s connected app for iPhone and Android, the watch will track physical activity and sleep.
Kate Spade was one of a number of brands, along with Emporio Armani, Diesel and Michael Kors, that announced plans to launch smartwatches by the end of 2016 in partnership with Fossil. The line will also include silicone wristbands and bangle-like bracelets.
Rony Zeidan, founder of luxury branding agency RO NY, said the effort is a harmonious pairing for the company, which has always been centered on practicality in design.
“Kate Spade is a very strong accessory brand and very profitable at the contemporary and lower-contemporary level,” Zeidan said. “The whole concept of the brand of Kate Spade is the practical handbag, and the goal of practicality translates to watch wear, especially as wearable tech has become so mainstream.”
As part of this enhanced practicality, the Kate Spade wearables are battery powered, unlike FitBits and Apple Watches, and range in price from $125 to $250.
Kate Spade New York silicone wristband activity trackers, available in November
Zeidan noted that the notion of functionality has also been key to the rise of athleisure, which has bolstered the demand for wearable tracking bands like FitBit. Consumers continue to seek out fitness wearables because it “fits in the zeitgeist of feeling healthier,” he said.
Thomas Rankin, CEO of visual intelligence platform company Dash Hudson, said the commoditization of tracking technology has made it easier for brands to take their own spin on connected wearables. Launching a smartwatch autonomously without the help of tech giants like Apple or FitBit shows how far bringing wearables to scale has come.
“As long as you have the marketing power, you don’t need an Apple from a tech perspective,” Rankin said. “You can do this kind of thing and launch it pretty fast.”
Though FitBit sales continue to rise — up 50 percent in the first three months of 2016 — a July report shows that sales from the Apple Watch have dropped by 55 percent since it was first launched in 2015.
Ramon Llamas, a research manager for wearables at market intelligence report IDC, told CNN Money that despite Apple Watch’s faltering, he anticipates the smartwatch market will grow next year as a result of new, innovative offerings that transcend Apple.
“Apple needs massive adoptions in order for them to put out a successful product because they put so much in research and development,” Rankin said. “The bar is so high for Apple. That’s why it’s been a disappointment.”