Google and Levi’s Will Make Super-Smart Jeans

Photo: Levis

Countless entrepreneurs have attempted to make tech devices — like fitness trackers and communication devices — into fashion items. But what about injecting tech into the things we already wear? Today, Google and Levi’s announced Project Jacquard, a partnership on apparel — not just denim but shirts, jackets, and underwear — that will have the same functionality as traditional wearable tech. How does that work, exactly? Google has developed conducive fibers that will be turned into the pieces. The clothes, or, as Google is calling them, “platforms,” can be connected to a mobile device and will have Bluetooth capabilities. Paul Dillinger, Levi’s VP of innovation, touted the concept as a way for people to liberate themselves from devices. Smart clothes will give us “the opportunity to get our faces out of our phones,” he told WWD, “to be engaged in the real world again, to watch a concert instead of recording one.” Although you could theoretically be recording said concert via your denim jacket.

Brands like Ralph Lauren and Opening Ceremony have waded into these waters before, the former with a biometric heart-rate-measuring shirt provided to ball boys at last year’s U.S. Open and the latter with a phone-charging varsity jacket. But this is the most wide-ranging project in the making-regular-clothes-high-tech sphere. And unlike more traditional wearable tech, which can come in the form of clunky or Matrix-esque devices, good old American denim staples are much easier to sell people on. After all, they’re clothes that we already wear, anyway. However, though pricing wasn’t revealed, the biggest hurdle would seem to be: Can you get people to pay extra for smart jeans?