If I'd told you there would be a fashion show at CES in Las Vegas, you'd probably expect a dress with crazy, sound-sensitive LEDs or a Bluetooth-emitting vest.
And you'd be right. But Thursday's FashionWare event, put on by Living in Digital Times at the annual tech trade show here, also featured garments that looked almost ho-hum.
And that's a good thing.
One model sported an innocuous-looking pair of jeans that clean your smartphone's screen every time you pull it from a special pocket. Another model walked the runway wearing a little black 3D-printed dress with an open mesh design. The garments had their quirks, sure, but you wouldn't do a double take if you saw someone wearing them as they walked past you.
"We're going to go from utilitarian to looking like everyday clothing," Nick Verreos, the show's host and a former Project Runway contestant, said in an interview. "It's like nobody would know [it's smart clothing]. It looks like the Gap."
That's a big step for the tech world as it increasingly intersects with the fashion industry. Tech companies, from Apple to Google to Samsung, are working to get people to wear technology, mainly in the form of wearable gadgets like smartwatches and fitness bands. There have been stumbles. When Google unveiled its Glass eyewear in 2012, the product was largely derided for being nerdy-looking and too cyborg-esque.
That may explain why Silicon Valley is now partnering with the fashion world. Google, with its Android Wear software for wearables, is working with traditional watchmakers such as Tag Heuer and Fossil. Apple teamed up with high-end boutiques, including French luxury brand Hermes to make bands, for the Apple Watch.
And Google last year put its troubled Glass project under the eye of Ivy Ross, a veteran fashion executive who has helped on design and product development at brands including Swatch, Coach and Calvin Klein.
Amanda Parkes, chief of technology and research for Manufacture New York, told CNET last month that the goal is "fashion-first" wearables -- smart garments and accessories that look good. Her company helps nurture young fashion startups and serves as a factory for their products.
But what about crazy LED light dresses? Those are important, too. They're the haute couture; the dress you put in the window to get people in the store and that pushes designers to think creatively, said Verreos. "It's to inspire, to look at where we can get."
Our editors bring you complete CES 2016 coverage and scour the showroom floor for the hottest new tech gadgets around.
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