A designer jacket is already, in some ways, a status symbol. New York-based luxury brand Rochambeau is taking the idea a step further with a connected bomber that can give its wearer access to exclusive city destinations.
In partnership with packaging and labeling company Avery Dennison and smart products platform Evrythng, Rochambeau designed the “Bright Bmbr” jacket: a $630 jacket that comes embedded with a smart chip concealed on the sleeve in a zippered pocket. Each chip is equipped with a personalized QR code that can be activated by a smartphone.
For the first batch of jackets, exclusivity is playing a role in driving demand: Rochambeau produced only 15 for a limited edition run, to be sold at experiential retail store The New Stand. Pre-orders are being accepted on the brand’s website.
“Luxury is centered around a sense of pride — how do I show off that I’m a user of this luxury product?” said Julie Vargas, director of global market development at Avery Dennison. “We’re using this same concept to drive event invitations, exclusive offers, and build a digital community behind each product.”
The digital experiences that accompany Rochambeau’s smart jacket are blatantly catering to luxury customers’ desire for exclusivity to win over those who may be wary of a chip in their sleeve. Wearing the jacket can reward customers with perks like a velvet rope entrance at New York City club Never Never Lounge or an exclusive tasting menu at restaurant Toro, which can be accessed by scanning the sleeve with the Evrythng app.
When someone wearing the jacket visits a location of The New Stand, they’ll unlock personalized gifts and content, like a music video or signed piece of artwork. The jacket will also serve as a ticket to Rochambeau’s 2017 runway show.
The smart jacket is one of the first products to be made as part of Avery Dennison and Evrythng’s “Born Digital” Internet of Clothing program, which will assign a unique web ID to 10 billion clothing and accessory products, giving each item a personalized profile in the cloud. Each line of products made with a digital profile will offer different use cases, but most connect to a wearer’s smartphone to provide individualized product information, use location services, and unlock benefits for the user.
“Avery Dennison is putting the technology out there, and so it’s up to marketers to come up with ways to engage the customer,” said David Cooperstein, an advisor to programmatic platform PebblePost. “They have to consider usage, wearability and performance. Consumers aren’t going to say, ‘I want my shirt connected to the internet. Marketers will have to come up with a great use case and value to be had to make that obvious to the consumer.”
The partnership with Rochambeau, and the limited exclusivity of the jackets, is part of Avery Dennison’s strategy to demonstrate to customers what the Internet of Clothing is capable of, effectively warming them up to the idea of chip-embedded clothing. It’s still early days for connected everyday products, and customer benefits are largely unclear. While data teams at retailers will get unprecedented access to information about how their products are being used, customers could be turned off by the idea that their privacy is at stake.
“The benefits to consumers are new, and so they’re a big question mark,” said Chris Paradysz, founder of the agency PM Digital. “The retailer will see who you are, where you are, what climate you’re in. But customers want to know what’s in it for them.”
For a limited release, the connected jacket can provide exclusive event access and free products. At scale, and outside of luxury fashion, it could mean access to content like product reviews, sustainability efforts and care instructions. With Avery Dennison at the helm, the technology is already available at scale. It’s up to the brands who want to sell smart clothing to create content and offers that benefit those at both ends.
“This is going to put the brand, emotionally, much closer to customers,” said Paradysz. “They’re going to know you, and it’s a weird thing now, but it won’t be weird in five years.”