Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Ring the bell: the messy test kitchen of fashion and tech has finally landed on a palatable recipe. Activity tracker behemoth Fitbit and buzzy New York label Public School have announced they're working on a collection of accessories for Fitbit's just-announced Alta tracker.
"Concept pieces" for the collaboration will debut at Public School's fall 2016 New York Fashion Week runway show this Sunday, February 14th. A Fitbit rep tells Racked the pieces we'll see then are "designed for the runway and will give a feel for the direction you'll see in retail later this year." Expect a range of "high-end bracelets inspired by urban space" to printed sport bands "that are at once contemporary and sophisticated." The latter is billed as more accessible, which means the former could be quite pricy.
If you're reading between the lines: no, we aren't going to see final designs this week and no, we aren't going to get price details for some time, either. This is still exciting.
The big idea here is that you have to want to wear your fitness tracker all the time or you won't get a true picture of your habits and behaviors. The solution is for trackers to be adaptable to ever-changing style preferences — and Public School has proved it knows what the kids want.
The made-in-New York brand, which offers both mens and womenswear, is known equally for its sporty-but-refined aesthetic and for its explosive growth since launching in 2008 (and relaunching in 2012, which is when the magic really began). Its collections — typically reduced to a palette of black, white, grey, and navy (so guess what the Fitbit colors might be) — have racked up an impressive list of retailers, plenty of celebrity fans, and a trio of CFDA awards.
From the Public School perspective, the Fitbit partnership isn't terribly surprising — designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne aren't new to collaborative efforts. Public School has done a capsule collection for J.Crew, designed luggage for Tumi, produced a splashy fashion show in Dubai with generous help from Cadillac, and designed a range for Nike Jordan. The designers also work as creative directors for DKNY.
What I expect Public School will bring to Fitbit is three-pronged. First, a selection of sporty styles that nail — sorry, no other phrase for this — health goth. Second, a collection of cool pieces that disguise the tracker as modern jewelry, a trend we've seen evolving across fitness trackers from Jawbone, Misfit, Fossil, and more. Finally, they provide a comfortable compliment to Fitbit's other fashion partnership, that with designer Tory Burch. Tory, and her Fitbit accessories, are preppy and bright; the opposite end of the spectrum from Public School, diversifying and expanding the tracker's appeal to the fashion-focused customer.
The Tory Burch accessories may be an indicator of pricing for the Public School collection. The current range, which is designed for the Flex tracker, start at $38 for a printed silicone sport band and top out at $195 for a metal bracelet (these prices don't include the Flex tracker itself, which is $100). Fitbit promises Tory-designed accessories for the new Alta tracker will be rolled out as well.
Alta (from $130) is available for pre-order now, shipping in the US next month and internationally April. Our first look at Public School's "concept pieces" will come this Sunday, February 14th, with final accessories out later this year.