Two months ago, I wrote a piece about how IT became fashion. Today, we are looking how technology changes fashion with two examples from 20th century and the implications it have to the fashion companies.
The picture to the right shows different fashion brands, mainly in US, and when they were active in the market. The table covers the period between 1900-1950 which gives us to examples of how technology changes fashion. As always, fashion is more targeted to women and thus the examples.
The first example is silk hosiery. Once a prestige apparel for women sold by many brands in the early part of 1920, have now became a rare item in very specialized stores. With the invention of nylon and the creation of panties during 40's and 50's became the silk stockings something of the past.
The other example is the corset. Used by women higher classes for centuries, it's now exiled to burlesque and fetish. The corset fell from fashion in the 1920's in Europe and North America and was replaced by girdles and elastic brassieres. New materials and new form factors made it possible the replace to old type of clothing.
The common theme for both examples are that convenience and cost for the new apparel made the choice very easy for the consumers. Most of the brands are gone since a long time ago, except for a few that have went the route to produce very exclusive garment for rare occasions.
So what can we in the technology sector learn from this?
If new technology and/or materials make it possible to make a product more convenient to use at an affordable price, the old brands will disappear or be bought by new market entrants.
Watch the computer industry and the makers of mobile handsets. Their products were not especially convenient to use and bloated software didn't make it better. Then think about wearable's and what impact they could have for existing market players in the mobile business.