Say hello to your new smart­watch.

Fashion (Canada) - - Contents - By Greg Hud­son

Meet Sofie, Michael Kors’s smart new watch.


re­ally, mas­sively, glob­ally pop­u­lar—its dom­i­nance can seem pre­or­dained. But in the same way that a much-hyped film can end up be­ing a cin­e­matic flop, a suc­cess­ful launch is never as­sured. Be­com­ing pop­u­lar is one thing; stay­ing that way is the real chal­lenge. It re­quires a pre­cise mix of con­tra­dic­tions: old yet new, edgy yet fa­mil­iar, prag­matic yet unique. This elu­sive alchemy is some­thing that Michael Kors has mas­tered.

A few years ago, any woman with even the slight­est in­ter­est in fash­ion wore an over­sized boyfriend Michael Kors watch. The time­piece was as ubiq­ui­tous as Longchamp bags, Hunter boots and Star­bucks gift cards, at least for the ur­ban style-con­scious set.

This sum­mer, at a posh party Kors threw in Lon­don to cel­e­brate the open­ing of Tatler’s English Roses (a pho­tog­ra­phy exhibit by David Bur­ton of Bri­tain’s 26 most “ex­cit­ing, in­ter­est­ing and beau­ti­ful women”), I had the chance to ask him how he achieves bal­ance in his de­signs. Ten of the women, in­clud­ing Tatler cover star Lady Lola Crich­ton-Stu­art, starred in the Fall 2017 Michael Kors Col­lec­tion cam­paign.

“My job is to de­sign prod­ucts that are like your best friend,” Kors replied. “We have so many things, but we al­ways have our favourites. I try to achieve a bal­ance be­tween in­dul­gence, fash­ion, glam­our, prac­ti­cal­ity and prag­ma­tism. If a prod­uct is only prag­matic, it’s not fun. If it’s pure fri­vol­ity, you might wear it once but you won’t grab it again.”

So how does the Sofie—the lat­est ad­di­tion to his An­droid Wear smart­watch lineup—achieve this bal­ance? It has a fa­mil­iar, if slightly slim­mer, sil­hou­ette, but Kors knows his cus­tomers also want in­no­va­tive, so­cially driven fea­tures like tex­ting, im­proved ac­tiv­ity track­ers and voice con­trol. Us­ing the MK My So­cial app, users can also cus­tom­ize the watch face by pulling pic­tures from their In­sta­gram feed. And with Google As­sis­tant, the Sofie re­ally does feel like a best friend. For those wary of mak­ing the switch to a full smart­watch, Kors is also launch­ing a hy­brid Sofie (and the Grayson, her male coun­ter­part) that pro­vides alerts, ba­sic track­ing and pusher but­tons to change your mu­sic or take a selfie.

The Sofie (which also works on iOS) is techy but eas­ily cus­tom­iz­a­ble, so it feels per­sonal. It’s ironic, but the more spe­cific an ex­pe­ri­ence is, the more univer­sal it some­times feels. Kors un­der­stands that this ironic di­chotomy also ex­tends to the fash­ion world. That likely ex­plains why he uses the idea of friend­ship to de­scribe what he cre­ates. Chances are your best friends are as spe­cific and com­plex as you are. For Kors, that takes an un­canny level of fore­sight and even em­pa­thy.

“I’m not here to make what you tell me you want,” he says, al­though he does ad­mit to lov­ing the feed­back he gets from so­cial me­dia. “I’m here to make what you don’t know you even want. I have to know be­fore you know. Most peo­ple have busy lives. They want to stay ahead of the curve—and they want to be rel­e­vant—but they don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath­wa­ter.”


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