In the increasingly competitive wearables market, designing and manufacturing the best technology doesn’t guarantee success — branding is just as important. From established firms (Apple) to more recent players (Fitbit), companies in the wearables market are teaming up more and more with big brands in an attempt to reach new audiences. Here are three of the most innovative wearable partnerships that have been formed in recent years:

Google and Levi’s

The partnership takes wearables to an even more literal level: Google and Levi’s developed and produced a “smart” denim jacket, with built-in sensors that can answer phone calls, control music, and provide directions — all by swiping on the sleeve of the jacket. There are also built-in notification lights which provide low-key message updates. Despite some exciting press coverage, both companies were relatively clear about the fact that the $350 jacket was more a proof-of-concept design than a mass-market product: unfortunately, the jacket can only survive an average of ten washes before its sensors degrade. However, the partnership signals more promising collaboration between tech companies in the wearables space and clothing manufacturers.

Garmin and Disney

Although wearables haven’t been marketed to children for very long, Garmin and Disney have teamed up to take on this relatively untapped segment of the market. For example, their Minnie Mouse Activity Tracker is covered with colorful images of the iconic cartoon character and can sync with smartphones and tablets to progress through an original storyline told in chapters — but before kids can continue, they must complete 60 minutes of physical activity during the day. There are also Star Wars and Marvel-themed wearables, and the watches are designed to have one year of battery life so that children won’t need to charge them.

Fitbit and Adidas

Fitbit has long been a strong contender in the wearables market: their products are known for their usability — but not necessarily for their style. They did try to change that with their partnership with Adidas, creating an Adidas-branded Fitbit with a custom design and user interface. Reminiscent of Nike’s previous partnership with Apple, the special edition Fitbit Ionic watch continued to solidify Fitbit’s reputation as the premier health and fitness wearable and introduced Fitbit to new markets: Adidas already has an established presence in China, for example, where Fitbit did not. Ultimately Adidas decided to exit the wearables market and focus on core products and complementary software solutions.

If your tech company is considering a wearable partnership, think about how your brands can help each other appeal to new audiences or improve each others’ products. Of course, for any wearable partnership to succeed, the technology has to work well.

What’s Next?

The collaboration between fashion and technology has not even started. The Jacquard Google / Levi jacket is on the first step towards clothes with electronics woven into the fabric. The uses for this kind of technology is still not clear, but personalisation has always been a driver of fashion, and the technology will be a clear enabler.

Considerations About the Technology

While the branding aspect is critical, the cost of production has an equal impact on the success of the product. If you need high-end components, they will be expensive. The components in question are usually CPU, memory and graphics, and sometimes media processors. If you can achieve a brilliant user experience without a GPU and without a super-fast CPU, you can reduce the cost of production, increase profits, experiment more, and build a better product.

Talk to us about how to build brilliant solutions without breaking budgets.