Fitbit’s activity-tracking bands are designed for fitness, but the company is trying hard to make them look fashionable. Last week, it unveiled Fitbit Alta, a “fashion-forward” device that can be worn with an array of wristbands, from leather straps to stainless steel bangles. Today (Feb. 10), Fitbit revealed that it’s taking Alta all the way to the runway.
The company is partnering with Public School, the much-hyped New York fashion label whose founders, Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow, are currently rebooting DKNY. At New York Fashion Week on Feb. 14, their models will be wearing the Fitbit Alta with custom Public School wristbands.
According to WWD (paywall), Chow and Osborne, who spent the last six months developing the bands, have come up with five different styles: “a braided bracelet fashioned from a stretchy nylon cord, a watch with a hollow space, a rubber band version, a bangle and a twisted cable.” The press release says there will be metal bands and sporty ones with bold graphics, and they’ll reflect Public School’s style, inspired by the streets of New York.
Fitbit has yet to finalize which of these it will actually produce, and the retail products may differ from what appears at New York Fashion Week. A spokesperson for Fitbit told Racked the bands are “designed for the runway and will give a feel for the direction you’ll see in retail later this year.”
The Fitbit Alta, which hits stores in March and will retail for $130, targets casual wearers rather than hardcore fitness fiends. It’s part of an apparent push by Fitbit to capture a broader market of wearables, to which fashion is key.
Companies are trying to make devices that shoppers want to wear because of how they look, as much as because of what they do. Apple, for instance, has partnered with luxury brand Hermès on a $1,250 Apple Watch as it struggles to convince the fashion world that the Apple Watch is attractive.
Fashion brand Michael Kors also recently announced it will launch a line of connected products this year. “Michael Kors is known for being at the forefront of the fashion watch category, and we expect to quickly emerge as a leader in connected fashion as well,” CEO John Idol said during a call with analysts last week.
Fitbit, the industry leader in fitness trackers, risks losing customers if it doesn’t keep pace with its competitors in terms of looks. In 2014, it launched a line with designer Tory Burch, but Public School may offer the edge and attitude its previous designs were seriously lacking.