A NEW FASHION FRONTIER IN WEARABLE TECH
By Scarlett Conlon, 11th March 2016
Wearable technology is a concept that while it pricks the ears of the digitally savvy, it continues to raise questions about how it can be incorporated into clothing without compromising style: cue new brand Emel + Aris.
Founded by Rana Nakhal Solset, a former executive at titles including Wallpaper, Elle and Tatler, the brand has created the world’s first smart coats that incorporate patented infra-red and battery-operated technology to heat the wearer at varying degrees of warmth – not that you would know it. The designs – a trench and a wrap-coat for women and a rain mac and overcoat for men – come cut to the highest quality using luxury Italian label Loro Piana’s water and wind-repellent cotton and cashmere-blends, with the technology discreetly concealed in the lining to provide heat on the shoulders, the lower back and the front lapels.
“My son, Mathias gave me the idea,” Solset told us. “He asked me when we were going to go on holiday to the North Pole could I please buy jackets that heat. I had a light-bulb moment. Why aren’t we all walking around in jackets that heat? That’s when I decided to create my own.”
Despite Matthais giving her the idea, Solset – a mother of two (Matthais, 7, and Leyla, 9) who splits her time between London, where she lives; Canada, where she grew up; and Norway, where her husband Thomas is from – has been somewhat destined to fuse the wearable tech and fashion industries. Having written a paper at university in which she stated she wanted to open a tech clothing shop one day, she moved to Paris where the insouciant Parisian aesthetic compounded her love for fashion.
But a light-bulb moment and a university dream does not a business make, and Solset is being as innovative about the way she is funding the project as she is about the product she has launched. As of today, Emel + Aris launches on Kickstarter where customers can order the coats, which are designed in London and made in Italy, at a discounted price (between £450 and £650) for 60 days, before they are sold from the brand’s e-commerce website at full price (starting at £1,095) thereafter. Customers will also be able to order limited-edition styles in navy, black, charcoal, camel, cream, powder blue and baby pink cashmere. The hope, Solset told us, is to raise the brand’s profile and grow organically, with large-scale distribution some way off.
“We have been very discreet about our brand until this week and we have not revealed our plans to retailers,” she explained. “This year we intend to establish our brand and keep control and therefore will be offering the product via our own e-commerce site first. Regardless of the success of Kickstarter we are developing the brand for the consumer launch in the Autumn. For 2017 our plan is to work with select retailers in important markets.”
By then, there may be some more products in the works, as Solset has no intention of stopping at smart coats.
“My ambition for Emel + Aris is to become the luxury go-to brand of wearable tech and the smart coat is just the first installment,” she said. “When talking wearable tech, there is a fine line between geeky and tasteful. I see collaborations and partnerships with designers and other entrepreneurs.”