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What’s a popular brand to do when they’ve already gotten arguably the world’s biggest celebrity, Beyoncé, to launch a line of activewear through their retail stores? Turn their attention to inventing fashion integrated with technology, of course! British retailer Topshop has announced the launch of a start-up innovation program with a focus on the development of wearable, fashionable tech. Dubbed Top Pitch, this program seeks to discover and create prototypes of wearable technology that further integrate these pieces within the fashion world while maintaining their useful functionality.

Wearables have definitely made leaps and bounds recently when it comes to aesthete and attractiveness, but so far there’s yet to be a high-fashion (or even mid-fashion) wearable to really take off and capture the attention of both techies and fashionistas. With Top Pitch, Topshop is making it a mission to integrate fashion and technology in new and exciting ways. Top Pitch is a collaborative program with L Marks, an early stage investment and corporate innovation company. Clearly, Topshop means business when it comes to fashionable wearable tech.

While many high-end designers and brands like Michael Kors, Fossil and Tory Burch have partnered with tech companies to collaborate on more fashionable wearables, Topshop is the first such retailer and brand to set out developing their own. While the applications and abilities of wearables are pretty undeniable, most people aren’t willing to shell out a lot of money on something that can do things for them if it doesn’t look good. Appearance is crucial in getting the masses to truly embrace wearable technology.

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“The merge of style and function has yet to have been seen in a true consumer-ready sense, and our aim is to discover new-to-market, highly desirable products at accessible prices for our fashion-savvy customer,” said Sheena Sauvaire, global marketing and communications director of Topshop. With Top Pitch, Topshop is inviting start-ups worldwide to take part in a boot camp with tech and fashion mentors as a meeting of minds to come up with some truly useful, and stunning, wearable products. At the end of the boot camp, the most promising team will be given the chance to secure equity investment and potentially have their product sold in Topshop stores.

“Top Pitch is such a great opportunity for entrepreneurs working on a wearable technology product,” said Stuart Marks, chairman of L Marks. “When presenting to buyers, it is always better to know them really well. What better way is there to learn about Topshop than work in collaboration with them for four weeks, developing your brand and strategy as well as the direction your product will take?” The opportunity for an emerging start-up is undeniable; as a brand, Topshop has a built-in youth consumer base that is extremely tech-savvy and interested in accessible fashion – a perfect audience to cater new, fashionable wearable tech to.

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