Is Tommy Hilfiger watching you?
Fashion designers have a problem. They can create a new look, but they have no way to tell if their designs are being worn. The most valuable type of advertising – word or mouth, or reputation, or “buzz” – is still an amorphous aggregation of sentiment, stories, hype, and hope. There’s no way to quantify how successful a new look is.
Except maybe now via technology. Tommy Hilfiger has a new system to track and reward people for wearing their clothes. It’s called Tommy Jeans XPLORE, and it uses a low-energy Bluetooth chip paired with a smartphone app to track how often you wear the items. They have the chips in $100 hoodies, $40 t-shirts and $120 jeans ($100 if you’re a skinny fit person). The app has a Pokémon GO type game where players collect points towards gift cards, signed merchandise, and other items. It’s a loyalty program that rewards you for wearing their clothes.
But what the company is really after is data: who’s wearing their designs, where they wear them, how often, and what they’re doing. Make no mistake: the click-through end-use licensing agreement in the app will allow the company to collect all kinds of information in all kinds of ways. Hilfiger is no stranger to technology. They’ve used AI to track design trends, created adaptive clothing for folks with disabilities, and have their own line of smartwatches. Now they want to make a splash in the big data pool.
Well, good luck with that. With news of Facebook’s and Google’s multi-billion missteps with customer data, and hacking and spy-wear creeping us out, not to mention the fact that the Pokémon GO game has been blamed for thousands of accidents, it’s hard to see how the new fashion line and app will inspire people to pay extra for the privilege of being tracked by “Big Tommy.” PVH bought the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation in 2005, and has done a good job managing the brand. But this foray into big data looks like a step off the runway.
It sort of makes you nostalgic for simple things. Like grunge wear.
Doc Martens. Photo: Jamin. Source: Wikimedia
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
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