Why This Fashion Tech Company Pivoted From Brand Collaborations To Vibrating Yoga Pants – Forbes
Billie Whitehouse and Ben Moir launched Wearable X in 2013 to help clients experiment with fashion tech. They worked with Durex and marketing giant Havas on vibrating underwear; with Fox Sports for a fan jersey that sends viewers a real-time jolt each time a player is tackled; with Oakley for a snowboarding jacket that maximizes air on jumps. Following those collaborations, they felt ready to release their own products. Their first direct-to-consumer line is Nadi X, a line of tech-infused yoga clothes sends subtle pulses that help wearers stay focused on poses, a âsubtle massage that guides your attention,â as Whitehouse puts it.
In this edited and condensed Q&A, she explains how she’s grown the business.
Katheryn Thayer: Whatâs been key to your ability to scale?
Billie Whitehouse: Well, I mean from a really basic level, it certainly helped having investment. That being said, we were able to grow because of the brand relationships we had. And we were able to grow a reputation because of those brand relationships. That really came from the ambition and the know-how of the team and I.
Thayer: How did you navigate brand relationships?
Whitehouse: I would say the integrity of the product, first of all. Getting people excited about the product is the best way to get brands involved, and whether that’s them trying it on or seeing some of the pieces or understanding how unique the opportunity is, that’s been our first hook with winning the brands. Then not always being the one chasing them, but having them come to you.
Thayer: What makes a prototype ready for market?
Whitehouse: Oh, it’s never ready for market. I mean, testing with a thousand people, you’re always going to hear differing opinions. But getting to a point where you can evaluate that it’s at least a 9 out of 10 by the time you launch, thatâs good. There is a fabulous saying: âIf by the time you release a product you’re no longer embarrassed by it, you waited too long.â I think when you’re a true perfectionist, sometimes it’s very hard to get to that point.
Thayer: Why did you start building your own products?
Whitehouse: At the end of 2014, I said âGreat, we’ve built all these products for other people, but building stuff for brands means we have limited timelines, limited budgets and we don’t get the longevity we’re looking for.â We decided to raise money and we took on a strategic partner who is also a manufacturer, and they gave us the ability to look at our scalability.