Unisex doesn’t cut it: Tech world, we need attractive wearables for women

Opening Ceremony + Intel MICA Collection
Most major manufacturers say their wearables are “unisex.” What they really mean is “made for men.”

Take the LG G Watch R or the Moto 360 for instance. Put either on a man’s wrist and you’ll say, “Wow, what an attractive smartwatch!” Place it on a woman’s wrist though, and presto: It’s ugly as homemade sin. Companies need to stop pretending that wearables built by men, for men, can also work for women. They can’t.

Women are the ideal customer base for wearables.

A few big companies are starting to realize this, but the folks really leading the charge in wearable tech for women are small startups and companies who get their start on crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

These projects, typically led by women, focus their attention exclusively on smart jewelry and attractive wearables that are specifically made for women. Ringly, Cuff, Plumora, MEMI, Mota Smartring, Ear-o-Smart, and many other projects like them all got their start on crowd-funding sites, and most of them focus on making smart devices that disguise themselves as pieces of attractive jewelry. More often than not, these projects exceed their funding goals and receive tons of attention from the media.

MEMI smartbracelet
MEMI smart bracelet

Why, you may ask? Well, it’s simple. Women want attractive wearables. Sure, ladies aren’t typically early adopters of high-tech devices, but they most certainly are the first in line for cute, functional accessories and often wear several pieces of jewelry and watches every day. We are the ideal customer base for wearables.

Apple is going after women more than it’s going after men.

Manufacturers need to make attractive, useful wearables with women in mind, and offer variety. A one-size-fits-all mentality doesn’t work — especially for women. If you’re going to make a smart necklace, bracelet, or ring, you better make it in gold AND silver, with both shiny and matte finishes. If you’re going to add a gem, offer different colors and a variety of stones.

So far, no company has grasped this concept better than Apple. Although the Apple Watch isn’t available yet, Cupertino has made it clear that it is targeting the fashion-forward crowd. The Apple Watch has graced the cover of Vogue and made the rounds at Paris Fashion Week. If anything, Apple is going after women more than it’s going after men. The company has yet to grant a tech publication an interview, but Jony Ive and other Apple executives are happy to talk to Vogue and Marie Claire about design.

Apple Watch Vogue Cover
Apple Watch graces the cover of Vogue David Sims/Apple

But more important, Apple is offering the Watch in multiple sizes. The smaller size will look sleeker on women’s smaller wrists, and the watch casing comes in real gold and other color options too. Better still, Apple has an entire selection of colorful, premium bands, all with different clasps. The Watch may be square, but it has a lot more style than most other smartwatches. In the end, you can personalize the Apple Watch to suit your style. This alone will make it more appealing to women.

If Apple’s first wearable becomes a hit with both men and women, it will have achieved something no other smartwatch has managed yet: mainstream popularity. To hit the mainstream, you need women. Apple’s rivals are starting to take notice. Samsung introduced the Gear S smartwatch at IFA 2014, which is essentially a bangle with a screen on it. Once the company popped Swarovski crystals on it, the Gear S was positively feminine. Yes, it’s flashy, absurdly big, and bulky, but feminine at least.

Intel has gone the same route with MICA. The large bangle is made of snakeskin and precious gems, but it has a touchscreen nestled on the back where only the wearer can see it. However, that’s the only thing about MICA that’s discrete. The device has shiny gold accents and looks much larger than something most women would wear – especially in a boardroom. Nonetheless, it’s a step in the right direction.

Fitbit also partnered with Tory Burch to create high-end jewelry cases for its fitness-tracking sensor, and Rebecca Minkoff created her own line of smart jewelry for women.

Fitbit + Tory Burch Collection
Fitbit + Tory Burch Collection

It’s a good start, but more big-name companies need to get in the game. Samsung, LG, Motorola, Apple, and Intel have the money to run ad campaigns in fashion magazines, on TV, and elsewhere to let women know that beautiful wearables are out there. Many of these companies also have the advantage of brick-and-mortar storefronts where they can put their bangles and bracelets on display.

If the Apple Watch manages to convince both men and women that wearables are cool, and gorgeous Kickstarter projects keep pushing the bar higher, the doors are wide open for a wearable tech boom in 2015.

I look forward to the day when I can strap a smartwatch on my wrist, say, “It’s really nice. I’d totally wear it” — and actually mean it.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

With style and feature upgrades, Misfit's next-generation Vapor 2 gets it right

Misfit’s next-generation smartwatch, the Vapor 2, packs built-in GPS, a heart-rate sensor, and more, into a beautiful design that starts from $250. We take a closer look at the company's latest device.
Wearables

Everything you need to know about Garmin’s GPS watches and trackers

Garmin jumped into the GPS smartwatch and fitness tracker market five years ago and has built a portfolio of devices that rivals competitor Fitbit. Here's your guide to the latest and greatest fitness devices that Garmin has to offer.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for November 2018

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Deals

The best Apple Watch deals for November 2018

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Mobile

The world’s first smartglasses showrooms open in Brooklyn and Toronto

Canadian startup North is hoping smartglasses will be the next big wearable. After announcing its new Focals smartglasses in October, the company opened product showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto.
Deals

Here are the best Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa deals for Black Friday

Apple products are the most sought-after products for Black Friday, the leaked preview ads show what discounts retailers will have for the Apple Watch Series 3 and other smartwatches, such as the Fitbit Versa, this holiday season.
Music

Music to our ears: Spotify at long last arrives on the Apple Watch

Spotify subscribers are now able to jam out to their favorite tunes on their favorite workout accessory, as the Swedish streaming service has finally released its official Apple Watch app.
Wearables

Check out 25 of the best Wear OS apps for your smartwatch

Looking for some ways to spruce up that new Android smartwatch of yours? Here are the best Wear OS apps to download and use with any Android smartwatch, including a few specially enhanced for Wear OS 2.0.
Health & Fitness

Withings new Pulse HR is a customizable, connected fitness tracker

Inspired by Withings first ever fitness tracker the Pulse, the new Pulse HR is updated with the latest in fitness tracker technology including smart notifications, 24/7 heart rate tracking, and more.
Emerging Tech

Believe it or not, this fire-proof exoskeleton isn’t designed for space marines

A company called Levitate Technologies has developed a fire-resistant upper body exoskeleton that’s capable of lowering exertion levels by up to 80 percent when you carry out manual work.
Mobile

The Motiv smart ring is coming to 20 more countries and physical stores

Remember Motiv's activity tracking smart ring? It's back with a raft of new features that adds biometric identification and token authentication, all on a device that fits on your finger.
Wearables

Google's Wear OS update 'H' promises battery life improvements

Google has rebranded its Android Wear operating system to Wear OS. Removing the Android name may help people better understand Google-powered smartwatches, which also play nice with iOS devices.