How do you convince everyday people to serve as unofficial ambassadors for a fashion brand? Make smart clothes, apparently. Tommy Hilfiger is launching a Tommy Jeans Xplore garment line that uses embedded Bluetooth smart tags (connected to the company's iOS app) to provide "one-of-a-kind rewards and experiences" to buyers. The more you wear the clothes, the more points you earn -- basically, you're getting a handful of perks for becoming a walking billboard.
The Xplore line includes men's, women's and unisex clothes, and is available "exclusively" in the US through both Tommy Hilfiger's website and its 5th Avenue flagship store in New York City.
There are numerous questions about the Xplore program, most notably including privacy. How much data do the tags and app send to Tommy Hilfiger, for example? And how much control do you have over that data, especially if you decide to bow out? The company didn't directly address the scope of data collection in a statement to Engadget beyond acknowledging that there might be personal info. However, it stressed that you had to activate the tag in addition to opting in, and that you could turn it off "at any time."
The smart tag's info is encrypted, it added, and any personal info is both separated and encrypted so that Tommy can obtain statistics without sweeping up identifying content. You can delete data as well. This isn't completely confidence-inspiring, but it's clear that the firm has some safeguards for whatever it does collect.
That's not the only issue, though. There's also the question of whether or not customers will embrace the concept. Tommy is excited about the prospect of creating a "micro-community" of ambassadors, but that doesn't mean its customers are going to significantly alter their wardrobes (and potentially share info) for a few perks. This is ultimately an experiment in connected clothing that recruits fashionistas as testers, and there's no certainty they'll volunteer in droves.