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when
meets
fashion
tech
What could possibly
go wrong?
Flickr cc ashleypalmero
I’m @nickdemey, based in Belgium

Business Designer & co-founder at
boardofinnovation.com
Let me illustrate what often goes wrong when
you innovate starting from technology triggers
You can’t just throw technology into a domain

& see what makes sense:
Example: Fashion
This is what you’ll end up with? ¯_( )_/¯
Commuting
Bluetooth enabled

bike lights?

#wtf
Personal Care
The connected 

menstrual cup
#wtf
Utilities
SMS tech to talk
to a fire hydrant?
#wtf
examples of 3 other domains 

via @internetofshit
Tech +
Fashion & Clothing?
Create
Art
Create a
new venture
Be honest to yourself. 

What’s the purpose of your design or creation? 

What do you want to achieve?
Run an

Experiment
feedback @nickdemey or boardofinnovation.com
Run an

Experiment
then just have fun, try new things, learn as much as possible!
If this is what you’re trying to do:
You’re doing this just for yourself.
Run an

Experiment
then just have fun, try new things, learn as much as possible!
If this is what you’re trying to do:
Look I have 

3D printed some

kind of fabric!
Sweet,

Energy harvesting

textile with RFID

tags!
Create
Art
Create a
new venture
Run an

Experiment
Instead of an experiment*, 

you might want to create
something more meaningful.
*don’t call your project “art”, just because
you lost track what your experiment 

was all about. ;)
Create
Art
then it becomes a communication tool, it could trigger an

emotional response, linked to a vision,…
If this is what you’re trying to do:
You’re doing this now for an audience.
Create
Art
then it becomes a communication tool, it could trigger an

emotional response, linked to a vision,…
If this is what you’re trying to do:
Stress level triggered dress

to defend your personal space.
Brainwaves trigger designs & shapes

= Less clothes = more sustainable.
Create
Art
Create a
new venture
Run an

Experiment
But, if your project evolves

towards a business concept,
You really have to offer value.
You will need to think different!
then you’re creating a product, somebody should be willing

to pay for it, you need marketing, sales, support,…
If this is what you’re trying to do:
You’re doing this now for customers
Create a
new venture
then you’re creating a product, somebody should be willing

to pay for it, you need marketing, sales, support,…
If this is what you’re trying to do:
Create a
new venture
Smart fabrics can cool/heat 

your body. Reduces energy bill.
Heart rate & movement tracking

shirt for athletes.
Create
Art
Create a
new venture
Run an

Experiment
Risk Free zone.
Risk!
A New Venture = Risk.
Suddenly you have users.

Clients with expectations.
You need to invest time & resources while you
try to understand how to create value.
Tech Design
Behaviour Design
What you might think you’re doing.
What you’re actually doing.
Examples of Fashtech startups

that got it wrong.
at first glance many might look interesting, 

but that doesn’t mean there is real business value.
Example: softspot.io
Just tech features.
No idea of clients
No concrete use case.
Example: thisisVigour.com
Cardigan with sensors,

link with iPad, to monitor
rehabilitation process.
Beautiful design, but flawed

from a behavioural point of view.
Continuous monitoring 

- vs -

“Who wears the same 

cardigan every day?”
Example: MimoBaby.com
Baby monitor + sensors

(breathing, sleep,…)
Detachable unit (turtle)
Although I love their mission,
actual behaviour shows baby clothes
needs to be swapped very often. 



“Body fluids” might ruin expensive

clothes with integrated sensors.

…
Example: Better alternative? owletcare.com
Minor difference, but better aligned 

with actual behaviour of people.
Behaviour Design
2 options - but one is far more difficult .
Alter existing
behaviour &
habits.
Introduce new
behaviour &
habits.
1 2
feedback @nickdemey or boardofinnovation.com
Alter Existing versus introducing new behaviour
Alter existing behaviour:

Already today people use clothes to shape their image.
DIY 3D printed modules

are just a small iteration

of this existing behaviour.
Small change = easy to adopt.
Alter Existing versus introducing new behaviour
Introduce new behaviour:

Nobody today uses clothes to send hugs over a distance.
Imagine the steps needed before you can send hugs remotely. Both users
first need to communicate in order to make sure both are wearing the shirt.
Introducing new behaviour is very difficult!
Big change = very hard to adopt.



This invention never took off.
send hug
Alter Existing versus introducing new behaviour
Introduce new behaviour:

Nobody today uses clothes to do payments.
Wireless payments or not, you still will carry your mobile phone, wallet,… 

Do you wear this jacket every day? Another gimmick, just throwing tech into
fashion doesn’t mean there is a person out there willing to use it.
Alter Existing versus introducing new behaviour
Flawed: Clothing to control objects that fit in a daily routine.
Send message by 

touching your ‘hoodie’
Integrated controls

for a specific use case
still makes sense.
Control Volume
with your zipper?!
Serious?
Nothing wrong with
experimenting & building concepts.
But once you go in ‘startup’ mode,
you need to be realistic & observe real users. 

Don’t fool yourself ;)
feedback @nickdemey or boardofinnovation.com
What other examples have you seen?
#win or #fail ?
Vibrating shoes with

GPS navigation?
Drumpants with sensors

to create music?
Bra that unlocks when

you feel in love.
feedback @nickdemey or boardofinnovation.com
I will be a coach at 

Startup Weekend FashTech

tickets: www.swfashtech.co


(Antwerp, 27-29 Nov)
boardofinnovation.com
Get in touch via @nickdemey or

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When Tech Meets Fashion: Avoiding Common Pitfalls

  • 1. when meets fashion tech What could possibly go wrong? Flickr cc ashleypalmero
  • 2. I’m @nickdemey, based in Belgium
 Business Designer & co-founder at boardofinnovation.com Let me illustrate what often goes wrong when you innovate starting from technology triggers
  • 3. You can’t just throw technology into a domain
 & see what makes sense: Example: Fashion
  • 4. This is what you’ll end up with? ¯_( )_/¯ Commuting Bluetooth enabled
 bike lights?
 #wtf Personal Care The connected 
 menstrual cup #wtf Utilities SMS tech to talk to a fire hydrant? #wtf examples of 3 other domains 
 via @internetofshit
  • 5. Tech + Fashion & Clothing?
  • 6. Create Art Create a new venture Be honest to yourself. 
 What’s the purpose of your design or creation? 
 What do you want to achieve? Run an
 Experiment feedback @nickdemey or boardofinnovation.com
  • 7. Run an
 Experiment then just have fun, try new things, learn as much as possible! If this is what you’re trying to do: You’re doing this just for yourself.
  • 8. Run an
 Experiment then just have fun, try new things, learn as much as possible! If this is what you’re trying to do: Look I have 
 3D printed some
 kind of fabric! Sweet,
 Energy harvesting
 textile with RFID
 tags!
  • 9. Create Art Create a new venture Run an
 Experiment Instead of an experiment*, 
 you might want to create something more meaningful. *don’t call your project “art”, just because you lost track what your experiment 
 was all about. ;)
  • 10. Create Art then it becomes a communication tool, it could trigger an
 emotional response, linked to a vision,… If this is what you’re trying to do: You’re doing this now for an audience.
  • 11. Create Art then it becomes a communication tool, it could trigger an
 emotional response, linked to a vision,… If this is what you’re trying to do: Stress level triggered dress
 to defend your personal space. Brainwaves trigger designs & shapes
 = Less clothes = more sustainable.
  • 12. Create Art Create a new venture Run an
 Experiment But, if your project evolves
 towards a business concept, You really have to offer value. You will need to think different!
  • 13. then you’re creating a product, somebody should be willing
 to pay for it, you need marketing, sales, support,… If this is what you’re trying to do: You’re doing this now for customers Create a new venture
  • 14. then you’re creating a product, somebody should be willing
 to pay for it, you need marketing, sales, support,… If this is what you’re trying to do: Create a new venture Smart fabrics can cool/heat 
 your body. Reduces energy bill. Heart rate & movement tracking
 shirt for athletes.
  • 15. Create Art Create a new venture Run an
 Experiment Risk Free zone. Risk!
  • 16. A New Venture = Risk. Suddenly you have users.
 Clients with expectations. You need to invest time & resources while you try to understand how to create value.
  • 17. Tech Design Behaviour Design What you might think you’re doing. What you’re actually doing.
  • 18. Examples of Fashtech startups
 that got it wrong. at first glance many might look interesting, 
 but that doesn’t mean there is real business value.
  • 19. Example: softspot.io Just tech features. No idea of clients No concrete use case.
  • 20. Example: thisisVigour.com Cardigan with sensors,
 link with iPad, to monitor rehabilitation process. Beautiful design, but flawed
 from a behavioural point of view. Continuous monitoring 
 - vs -
 “Who wears the same 
 cardigan every day?”
  • 21. Example: MimoBaby.com Baby monitor + sensors
 (breathing, sleep,…) Detachable unit (turtle) Although I love their mission, actual behaviour shows baby clothes needs to be swapped very often. 
 
 “Body fluids” might ruin expensive
 clothes with integrated sensors.
 …
  • 22. Example: Better alternative? owletcare.com Minor difference, but better aligned 
 with actual behaviour of people.
  • 23. Behaviour Design 2 options - but one is far more difficult . Alter existing behaviour & habits. Introduce new behaviour & habits. 1 2 feedback @nickdemey or boardofinnovation.com
  • 24. Alter Existing versus introducing new behaviour Alter existing behaviour:
 Already today people use clothes to shape their image. DIY 3D printed modules
 are just a small iteration
 of this existing behaviour. Small change = easy to adopt.
  • 25. Alter Existing versus introducing new behaviour Introduce new behaviour:
 Nobody today uses clothes to send hugs over a distance. Imagine the steps needed before you can send hugs remotely. Both users first need to communicate in order to make sure both are wearing the shirt. Introducing new behaviour is very difficult! Big change = very hard to adopt.
 
 This invention never took off. send hug
  • 26. Alter Existing versus introducing new behaviour Introduce new behaviour:
 Nobody today uses clothes to do payments. Wireless payments or not, you still will carry your mobile phone, wallet,… 
 Do you wear this jacket every day? Another gimmick, just throwing tech into fashion doesn’t mean there is a person out there willing to use it.
  • 27. Alter Existing versus introducing new behaviour Flawed: Clothing to control objects that fit in a daily routine. Send message by 
 touching your ‘hoodie’ Integrated controls
 for a specific use case still makes sense. Control Volume with your zipper?! Serious?
  • 28. Nothing wrong with experimenting & building concepts. But once you go in ‘startup’ mode, you need to be realistic & observe real users. 
 Don’t fool yourself ;) feedback @nickdemey or boardofinnovation.com
  • 29. What other examples have you seen? #win or #fail ? Vibrating shoes with
 GPS navigation? Drumpants with sensors
 to create music? Bra that unlocks when
 you feel in love. feedback @nickdemey or boardofinnovation.com
  • 30. I will be a coach at 
 Startup Weekend FashTech
 tickets: www.swfashtech.co 
 (Antwerp, 27-29 Nov) boardofinnovation.com Get in touch via @nickdemey or