We are all in the fashion industry

The headline is a quote from my favorite thought leader Seth Godin. I discovered him way later than I wish I would have, because I wish I would have started doing things his way much sooner. This quote he made in a 2003 TED talk made me think of something very topical: the yearly CES convention going on in Vegas. 

Someone told me a long time ago that the fashion industry is mired by late adopters. The fashions in New York, Milan, or Paris aren’t what we see on the rack a few weeks later. We see them years later. Why is that?

Mainly, fashion shows are meant to display new ideas. These ideas must be refined and iterated upon many times before it makes it to your local Banana Republic. It stands to reason that a woman in the middle of the country may think these fashions are too different. More likely, however, the reason fashion takes time to mature into a commercial product is people inherently dress alike. We see a shirt on someone else and think, “I want that!”

Consumer electronic products work the exact same. The Nest thermostat was on the market for a good year before people really started talking about it. Twitter was a viable product for over a year before the 2007 South by Southwest conference, when the traffic of the social media giant tripled overnight.

Not everything can be the iPhone, that had a cult-like following from day one. Products need time and iterations to improve into something everyone will want. That makes CES the Fashion Week of the consumer device industry. People are showing off things that could have a huge impact on our lives, provided a few things fall into place.

The Vegas convention has taken some guff this year about it dying off; that the giants who used to tower over the event are pulling out. This is good news! Companies that didn’t quite have the money or opportunity to show their wares off now have a chance. We should be seeing more and more awesome gear from companies we can all get behind. Time will tell if this is actually the case.


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