| SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 6
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 6 Apple Inc has
invited top fashion editors and bloggers in unprecedented
numbers to its Tuesday launch gala, further evidence that the
iPhone maker is preparing to take the wraps off a smartwatch.
Apple is forging closer ties to the fashion world as it
plots its foray into the fertile field of wearable technology,
trying to win over a critical crowd that may prove crucial to
the success of consumer gadgets worn around the body.
A smartwatch would represent Chief Executive Officer Tim
Cook's first real new product since taking the baton from Steve
Jobs. Several fashion media editors told Reuters they received
invitations for the first time to an annual September
product-launch, which they took as confirmation of a wristwatch
in the wings.
"I assume it's because they are unveiling a wearable," said
Lea Goldman, features and special projects director for Marie
Claire magazine, a first-time invitee. "This suggests Apple is
serious about tapping into the fashion world, which often sits
on the sidelines."
Apple declined to comment.
The iPhone maker, known for its sleek aesthetic, has made
overtures to the fashion press in the past. It typically opts to
host a separate event in New York where editors meet the team
and review products, two fashion editors say.
That courtship has grown more aggressive. Last month, the
company hosted what it called a "first-of-its-kind event" at an
Apple Store in New York to showcase fashion and retail apps to a
group of style editors, according to an invitation seen by
Fashion site Refinery29's health and science director Kelly
Bourdet said the decision to include fashion editors on the
invite-list is a "nod to the fashion crowd."
Apple seems poised to network with the who's who of the
industry. In the past year or two, it has hired Patrick
Pruniaux, former vice president of Tag Heuer's global sales and
retail; Angela Ahrendts, former chief executive of Burberry Inc;
and former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve joined as vice
president of special projects.
It is not just Apple. From Google Inc to LG
Electronics Inc and Intel Corp, technology
companies are beginning to forge fashion ties. On Friday, Intel
announced a tie-up with Fossil Group on wearable
Sonny Vu, chief executive of Misfit Wearables, expects more
tie-ups as tech companies ramp up the fashion quotient in
smartwatches, given that the current crop of watches has
received mixed reviews.
The challenge for technology companies is to make something
"fashionable off the bat" that is not clunky, said Eric Wilson,
fashion news director for InStyle Magazine.
He and other editors said they harbored high hopes for Apple
and planned to monitor Tuesday's event.
"It confirms that they have a play in wearables and that
they want to appeal to the fashion world, and not just
technology consumers," said Lauren Indvik, editor in chief for
Fashionista and another first-time invitee.
(Editing by Edwin Chan)