First of all, the jean jacket is officially back.
Personally, I contemplated buying one for the better part of the last year. Part of the driving force was my wanting to get it as an ironic (and iconic) piece of attire. I had one when I was, like, five years old, because that’s what Mom thought looked best. But the more I look at them today, the more I realize that I genuinely like jean jackets as a piece of fashion.
But the reason I feel confident making that initial statement about these denim dos is the fact that Google, with the help of Levi’s, opted to use the jean jacket to introduce the world to its Jacquard technology. The name of this new product is a mouthful—it’s called the Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard by Google—but it’s going to go down as one of the most advanced, and maybe important, pieces of smartwear to date.
Jacquard, described simply, is technology woven into basic fabrics. On its Project Jacquard website, Google explains that their focus has been on using raw materials like yard and textiles, to integrate “unprecedented access to the digital world” through items that typically wouldn’t be considered technology. The concept was first introduced at Google’s 2015 I/O developer conference.
A year later at I/O 2016,, the first real example of this touch-sensitive fabric turned up when Levi’s announced it was working with Google to put Jacquard in its products. And now, this week, the Jacquard jacket hits stores.
To get connected, the jacket has a (somewhat clunky looking) dongle that attaches to the sleeve where the Jacquard fabric is embedded. The wearer then can pair their iOS or Android smartphone to the coat. To interact with the Jacquard fabric, you execute different gestures—a touch, a swipe, a double tap, or simply covering your wrist. Through the app, you can configure what type of response you get from the different actions. Some of the examples that Levi’s and Google give include getting navigational assistance, pausing and playing music, accepting calls, and listening to messages, among several others.
The jacket is positioned as one that’s ideal for the on-the-go consumer. To get a little more hyper specific, the companies have been marketing the product as one that’s ideal for someone who bikes to work. By interacting with the Jacquard fabric, the user can leave their phone in their pocket while still remaining aware of important notifications, in control of their music, and aware of upcoming turns in their route.
At $350, the jacket has a high-end price tag, which makes sense given the early stages we’re in with this technology. Another downside, according to multiple reports, is that the coat apparently can only be washed a handful of times before the Jacquard sensors in the wrist stop functioning properly.
The Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard launched online on September 27 and will be available in stores in early October.