A ‘digital’ Levi’s jacket for cyclists

SAN FRANCISCO •Levi Strauss and Google are marking a new milestone with a jacket for cyclists.

The clothing maker this week begins selling a denim jacket with touch controls woven into the fabric in the first fashion offering stitched from a collaboration with the technology giant.

The iconic California clothing company, which has a legacy reaching back to the Gold Rush in the mid-1800s, will mine the mobile Internet boom with a “Trucker Jacket with Jacquard”.

The denim jacket has a sleeve cuff made of special Jacquard fabric that synchronises wirelessly with smartphones, enabling a limited set of commands using swipes or taps, a video posted at YouTube by Levi Strauss showed.

“As we see it, this isn’t just about technology for technology’s sake – it’s about addressing a real need for our consumers on the go,” said Levi Strauss vice-president of global product innovation Paul Dillinger.

“This garment allows cyclists to literally navigate their rides and manage other simple tasks, while never having to take their eyes off the road.”

Google engineer Ivan Poupyrev said in a blog post that, first and foremost, “it’s a jacket”.

“Like any regular denim jacket, you can wash it (just remove the snap tag), it’s durable, designed to be comfortable for cycling and it’ll keep you warm on and off the bike.”

He added that the garment enables users to “perform common digital tasks – such as starting or stopping music, getting directions or reading incoming text messages – by simply swiping or tapping the jacket sleeve”.

The jacket will be priced at US$350 (S$470) in selected shops in the United States and on the levi.com website.

Slightly more than two years ago, Google used its annual developers’ conference in San Francisco to reveal Project Jacquard and spotlight Levi Strauss as its first partner.

Named after a Frenchman who invented a type of loom, Project Jacquard is in the hands of a small Google team called Advanced Technology and Projects.

Conductive threads can be woven into a wide array of fabrics and be made to visually stand out or go unnoticed, depending on the designers’ wishes.