In a Nutshell
*Tommy Hilfiger lovers can earn points redeemable for products, gift cards, signed merch, and experiences by activating smart chip technology in XPLORE clothing pieces that tracks how often they sport the gear.
A new line of clothing and accessories from fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger uses smart chip technology to encourage people to wear the items frequently to earn redeemable reward points. Some have called the Tommy Jeans XPLORE Capsule Collection innovative – a harbinger of brand ambassador marketing to come. Others have criticized the smart apparel as good technology used to little benefit, while also raising privacy concerns.
Here’s how it works: Each item in the XPLORE collection comes embedded with an Awear Solutions’ Bluetooth low-energy smart chip. Should wearers desire, they can connect the chip to the XPLORE iOS App. By wearing the clothing and being connected, Tommy fans earn points, get to compete in daily and weekly challenges, and can collect branded icons in the shape of hearts on the app’s map. Tally up enough points, and Tommy will let you cash in for products, gift cards, signed merchandise, and event experiences, such as VIP passes to a Hilfiger runway show.
“Awear’s smart tag enables active, personalized engagement in real time, rewarding the consumer on product usage,” Liron Slonimsky, CEO and founder of Awear Solutions, told WWD. “Never before has a brand been able to understand how the consumer truly uses the product after it leaves the store.”
Some in the tech and fashion worlds have criticized Tommy’s collection. Writing for Gizmodo, Jennings Brown called the line “full gimmick” and said it “will not improve your life in any way.” Meanwhile, Jon Fingas, writing for Engadget, raised concerns about privacy. “How much data do the tags and app send to Tommy Hilfiger, for example? And how much control do you have over that data, especially if you decide to bow out?” In response, the Tommy brand stressed that wearers had to activate the tag for any data to be collected, adding that it could be turned off at any time. As Fingas reported, the smart tag’s info is encrypted, and “any personal info is both separated and encrypted so that Tommy can obtain statistics without sweeping up identifying content.” Also good to know: Data can be deleted.
In our view, some of the criticism seems a tad harsh. If you’re a Tommy fan, want to participate in the rewards program, and recognize that data on you is being collected, then have at it – it’s a direct benefit for you on something you have consciously opted into. If you don’t want to participate but still want to sport the clothing, then that’s fine and dandy too. It remains to be seen how things will play out with the smart chip rewards program, but if it has even a moderate degree of success, rest assured other brands will follow. Brown thinks so. “Tommy is showing us a realistic vision of the future of smart clothes,” he wrote. Perhaps one day the technology will make its way to the promotional products industry, too.