Intel wants to be a tech 'enabler' for the fashion industry

Its goal is to help brands and designers make cutting-edge wearables.

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Getty Images for Intel
Getty Images for Intel

The line between technology and fashion is blurring. Brands and designers are now using electronics to make cutting-edge wearables and experiences, while companies like Amazon are trying to break into a space that hasn't until now been very welcoming of outsiders. Intel is another tech company that's set its sights on the fashion world, with various smart garments and accessories, including dresses, glasses and bracelets. In an interview at SXSW, Intel Vice President Sandra Lopez said her team's mission is to be an enabler first and foremost rather than trying to become a fashion brand unto itself.

Lopez pointed to last year's New York Fashion Week, when Intel teamed up with 13 designers to livestream a runway show in virtual reality -- a medium that's being embraced by many fashion houses. Another example, she said, is Tag Heuer's Connected Modular 45 smartwatch, which Intel helped build with Google and the Swiss watchmaker. "Our strategy is focused on collaboration and empowering leaders in the fashion industry to push the boundaries of fashion with technology," Lopez said. "We are constantly working to make our technology smaller, faster, more energy efficient and more capable than ever before to help our partners succeed."

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One of the challenges for brands is figuring out how to make the most out of technology, she said, especially in terms of the data they're collecting through connected garments, other types of wearables and at their retail stores. "There is a real opportunity to help the fashion industry harness the power of data," Lopez said. "How can you analyze what consumers are doing in store, online and through every interaction you have in real time to maximize sales and open up new revenue streams?" That's something designers like Rebecca Minkoff are already trying to do with in-store features like smart mirrors, self-checkout and RFID tags that let the brand know more about customers' buying habits.

"Personalization and customization is only beginning to be tapped into," Lopez said about the potential of both industries working together on wearable products. "Technology has the ability to transform industries, and fashion is no different."

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