Tommy Hilfiger sparks privacy concerns over new smart clothing collection

Danielle Fowler
Freelance Writer
Tommy Hilfiger has launched a smart clothing range designed to track a customer’s movements [Photo: Getty]

In a world which is increasingly drawing parallels to sci-fi Netflix hit ‘Black Mirror’, it will come as no surprise to learn that the fashion industry is the latest to dabble in artificial intelligence.

Tommy Hilfiger has launched a line of smart clothing under the label ‘Tommy Jeans Explore’ which is designed to track a wearer’s movements through Bluetooth technology.

From hoodies to denim jackets, every item included in the 23-piece collection comes with built-in Awear Solutions’ Bluetooth low-energy smart tags which connect the product to an iOS app.

According to the fashion chain, the aim of the revolutionary line is to create a “micro-community of brand ambassadors” but how?

The clothing will track a customer’s movements and wearers will be rewarded for walking past specific Tommy Jeans store locations. By connecting the product to the label’s Tommy Jeans Xplore app, customers will also have the chance to win concert tickets, discount codes and gift cards.

The brand’s latest unisex line – which will cost customers between $29 to $139 (approximately £22 to £105)  – is currently only available in the US through the Tommy Hilfiger website or at the New York flagship store.

One of the Tommy Hilfiger Xplore hoodies which are fitted with tracking devices [Photo: Tommy Hilfiger]

But Tommy Hilfiger isn’t the first fashion brand to launch a range of smart clothing, as Levi’s teamed up with Google to create a $350 (approximately £266) denim jacket known as the Commuter x Jacquard.

The aim of the garment (which is still available to shop now) is to enable customers to connect their phone via Bluetooth. With a simple tap of the cuff, wearers can control their playlist, receive help with directions or even accept phone calls.

But the garment was met with criticism, as it can only be washed up to 10 times due to its in-built technology.

Similarly, Tommy Hilfiger’s latest venture has drawn criticism. In a statement to Engadget, the fashion giant emphasised that the tracking chips are encrypted and can be “switched off at any time” but did not specify further on the nature and scope of the data they would collect from a user.

Over on social media, Twitter users have similar concerns as one branded the smart clothing line “creepy”, as they wrote [sic]: “So Tommy Hilfiger is going to have chips in his clothes (not all) to track how much ppl wear the brand. More wear = points to use for exclusive things such as concerts etc. That’s creepy tbh.”

While another took to the social media platform to call out the US label for a “serious privacy violation”.

With heightened security concerns in the post-Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data scandal era, smart clothing may prove a step too far.

What do you think?

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