Our reliance on smartphones, laptops, smartwatches and tablets means it's virtually impossible to go off the radar these days. These devices can listen to our conversations and leave a digital footprint everywhere we go, so there's an almost constant record of our movements and location.
Soon enough, even our clothes will be tracking our whereabouts and what we're up to. At least, our Tommy Hilfiger jeans will. The brand is launching a 23-piece collection containing smart-chip technology that will track how often customers wear the items and where they are, with bonus points awarded for walking past Tommy Jeans stores.
The brand will then offer rewards and experiences to its most loyal wearers, and hopes to create a "micro-community of brand ambassadors".
Titled 'Tommy Jeans Xplore', the range includes hoodies, T-shirts, jeans and a denim skirt, plus accessories including bags, backpacks and hats, all of which will contain a Bluetooth chip letting the brand know exactly how regularly and under what conditions people are wearing its clothes.
If wearers want to be rewarded for their loyalty, they must download the dedicated Tommy Jeans Xplore app. They'll then be eligible for freebies including gig tickets, product discounts, charity donations and more if they wear the clothes often enough.
Even in our surveillance age, where we're used to being tracked and monitored 24/7 (or at least thinking we might be being watched), it's a controversial idea that raises various ethical and moral questions about privacy and who has control over the data. There are fears that the data could end up being compromised (although the brand says the information stored on the chip will be encrypted and the tracking features can be easily turned off).
"Never before has a brand been able to understand how the consumer truly uses the product after it leaves the store," said Liron Slonimsky, chief executive officer and founder of Awear Solutions, the company behind the Bluetooth smart tag used in the clothes.
Nevertheless, people have aired their cynicism and concerns on social media, with some calling it "creepy" and a violation of privacy.
So Tommy Hilfiger is going to have chips in his clothes (not all) to track how much ppl wear the brand. More wear = points to use for exclusive things such as concerts etc.— ❤️FromShan (@shanshiku) July 28, 2018
That’s creepy tbh
You’d have to be crazy to buy, and wear, something like this - surely? It’s #surveillance, plain and simple.— Dr. Stuart Woolley (@FractalDoctor) July 27, 2018
Do you #trust them?
”Track-suits: Tommy #Hilfiger's creepy new clothes know how much you wear them”https://t.co/6IykuMcj6d#security #privacy #location #1984
Here comes more smart clothing nobody asked for. Fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger today announced the launch of a new line of men’s and women’s clothing, Tommy Jeans Xplore, which comes with smart-chip embedded technology. Unlike, say, Google’s Project… https://t.co/2egmrQoLZ2 pic.twitter.com/5foeRKYv4e— Aamy James (@AamyJames) July 25, 2018
The range, currently only available in the US via the brand's website and its flagship New York store, is priced between $29 (£22) and $99 (£76).
Tommy Hilfiger isn't the first brand to track customers using smart technology, however. While most of the smart clothing industry is currently dominated by health and fitness brands providing wearers data on their heart rate, breathing and the like, fashion companies are increasingly getting involved.
Last year Levi's worked with Google on a smart jacket, which is still available to buy, that connects to the wearer's phone, letting them control their music, get directions or read texts. Topshop also has a range of keyrings, phone cases and bracelets linked to wearers' debit or credit cards that can make contactless payments.
Tommy Hilfiger have announced a collection of 'smart' clothes with with a Bluetooth chip to track your movements and offer rewards based on how much you wear them. Would you wear clothes that literally track you?— Refinery29 UK (@Refinery29UK) July 30, 2018