What could be less fashionable than a drone? Whirring propellers, a relentless buzzing sound, and the aerodynamic grace of a brick. Yet commercial drones have become a huge contributor to making businesses more efficient and aerial tasks safer.
But on the runway? Indeed. We think drones have a place in fashion.
Right now drones are used in the business of fashion. They monitor retail and wholesale inventory, patrol warehouses and factories against unauthorized entry, help scout out new locations, and may even provide consumer insights by tracking traffic flow into and around stores. As Vikki Weston told Ragtrader,
“How do vehicles move towards stores or shopping centres? Are some customers put off by traffic outside a shopping centre or car park and therefore avoid city centre retail destinations?
“Flying above a retail location a drone could collect data to measure the effectiveness of signage, the positioning of entrances and the impact of traffic or other impacts in the surrounding area.”
Commercial drones have carved out multibillion-dollar markets in agriculture, construction, and energy. In fashion they’re still a blip on the market analysts’ radar.
But they’ve made their presence felt in fashion. In February 2014, the luxury retailer Fendi made headlines by using drones to film models on the runway at Milan Fashion week. Drones took to the runway again at the Rebecca Minkoff runway show at New York Fashion Week in 2015.
Uri Minkoff, the brand’s co-founder, told TechCrunch they used drones “because the millennial woman is probably going to have her own drone in the next couple of years.”
At the Silicon Valley Fashion Week that May, drones replaced living models altogether.
These are symbolic statements of what’s to come.
Mota’s Chief Product Officer Lily Ju helped judge Saturday’s Miss Asian America Pageant, an event which attracted a who’s who of the Asian-American community. We flew the Lily Next-Gen camera drone outside the city’s Herbst Theater across from San Francisco City Hall to the delight of the fashionistas who attended.
Adam Pruden, a senior designer at Frog Design, the company that designed the Apple computer, said wearable drones are the future. At a session at SXSW, he said he had “if drones replaced smartphones, they’d have to interact with our bodies — and what better way to do that than by having them attached to us.”
If drones become this close to us they are, in effect, personal companions. Unlike a phone, they can follow you and do things for you in physical space.
Some of his ideas for wearable drones:
- A ring-shaped flying robot that could be worn like a bracelet, which you could take off and flick into the air before flying forward to guide you to a desired location if you got lost.
- A rotor-shaped object that could be worn as a part of a necklace, which could be extended to become a rotating halo-like helicopter when it sensed rain, hovering over your head and keeping you dry.
- Or even a drone that could hover in front of your mouth and filter pollution-tainted air.
Nixie Labs envisioned a camera-equipped drone that could be worn as a wrist band but hasn’t brought it to market. As miniaturization increases, wearable flying devices will be practical.
And, once we start wearing drones, many of us who are fashion-conscious would start thinking of how to make them a fashion statement.