Meggen Taylor , CONTRIBUTOR FORBES
Wearable tech has become all the rage, but most wearables aren’t very appealing for fashion-forward ladies (like myself) making them unlikely to become a wardrobe staple, which is a damaging paradox for any product that’s supposed to be wearable in the first place.
That’s all about to change with Wisewear, a hybrid fashion-tech company that launched in January 2016, and recently debuted a stylish collection of bracelets that deliver on form, function, and fashion.
Wisewear’s technology allows users to count their calories burned, keep track of steps and distances traveled, and it gently vibrates when the wearer receives a text, email, or has an upcoming appointment so you can stay in the moment rather that being obsessed with your phone. Most importantly, it has a distress messaging feature that texts your GPS location to your emergency contact list with a gentle tap to the bracelet.
Founder and CEO of Wisewear, Dr. Gerald Wilmink
Wisewear’s CEO and founder, Gerald Wilmink, PhD MBA tells me, “My grandfather, who raised me, broke his hip at the age of 79 when he was in otherwise perfect shape and sadly passed away a few days later after Christmas—it was devastating and I wanted to right a wrong”.
Since then Wilmink has applied his educational background in business and his PhD in Biomedical Engineering to create a family of wearbles that give users the power to lead healthier, more informed, and safer lives.
Compared with other wearables on the market, Wisewear’s game changer is its patented antenna that transmits Bluetooth with wifi. “Bluetooth and wifi can’t go through metal,” explains Wilmink, “So Wisewear is unique because we used our antenna technology to make fashionable jewelry”.
While the company specializes in advanced setting technologies, Wisewear also puts a premium on high-end design that clearly shows in The Socialite Collection, which offers three water resistant styles (Kingston, Duchess, and Calder) made of brass and plated in 18k precious metals like rose gold, palladium and gold.
Wisewear’s in-house design team earned pedigrees at Ippolita, Alexis Bitter, and Rachel Zoe so they are no strangers to understanding that anything wearable—whether it has a tech function or not—must also be a timeless piece of art.
“Technology is a beautiful thing and wearing it should be too,” says Wilmink. “Our goal is to empower consumers with the best technology and style so that they can live the balanced lifestyles that they deserve”.
Wisewear’s knack for merging fashion with technology has not gone unnoticed by the retail powerhouses already betting that fashionable tech (or is that functional fashion?) is on the verge of a market surge. Wisewear’s Socialite Collection will be available at Saks Fifth Avenue both online and at its flagship store the third week of September and will be launching a new collection in collaboration with fashion-icon Iris Apfel that will be available in Spring/Summer 2017. “It is an honor to know and to collaborate with such an iconic woman such as Iris,” Wilmink says. “Even in her 90’s she is still vivacious and full of energy. In fact, she can outpace me any day with her schedule”.
Wisewear’s most strategic competitive advantage, however, is their products’ universal appeal to multiple age demographics looking for a range of functions—which can be a challenging chord to strike. Wilmink tells me, “We knew we offered a strong value proposition for certain demographics like college aged women, but we have been surprised certain industries that have embraced us like realtors and women who travel alone for example”.
For our aging population with injuries gone are the days when LifeAlert and similar companies are the only options in the marketplace for distress messaging (have you seen the “That’s not for me. That’s for old people” television ad recently?). Now women of any age for any reason can look and feel stylish while staying connected.
If you’re a man reading this don’t worry. “We will be coming out with a line geared towards men soon,” Wilmink says. “I happen to wear ourKingston design, but understand that it may not be a look every man is comfortable wearing!”