We’ve often said: in order for wearable tech to work, the technology has to disappear. Here’s a great example of that: this startup creates Italian handmade luxury handbags with hidden charging and notifications capabilities. We spoke with co-founder Raffaele Caroli to tell us more about what Gianoi is creating.
Gianoi is a high-end luxury focused accessories brand, fusing technological innovation, inspired design and traditional craftsmanship to create the ultimate fashion and lifestyle product.
Each piece in our collection is handmade in Italy using the finest artisan-made materials (sleek leathers and colorfully exotic skins,) combined seamlessly with a built-in technology which is stylishly invisible to the eye and fashionably functional.
What was your inspiration behind creating Gianoi?
Three years ago when I was working in the fashion industry and my brother (and future co-founder) worked in the technology industry, we started to notice the same social behaviors developing around us–people becoming more and more dependent on using technology for social interactions and in their work life. We realized that while both the fashion and technology industries are driven by innovation,the innovation they bring to market is limited to their field.
So, we set out to combine the style and beauty of fashion with the functionality and convenience of technology in a new, unfamiliar way. Our objective was to create a more useful and simple way to interact with technology, creating a better lifestyle balance–a way that is not intrusive to our social interactions but also never leaves us disconnected.
Our inspiration (and the name of the brand) comes from Janus, the ancient Roman God of the Past and the Future. Janus is always depicted with two faces – one looking backwards, one forwards. This is our vision really, to draw from the past, consider the present, and look to the future.
Who are your customers?
Our customers are women that are always on the move: young and older stylish women, business women and busy fashionistas that always need to be connected for work or pleasure. At the same time our customers want to choose when to disconnect and be in control of their technology, not be controlled by it. For example our range of handbags with our signature notification functionality, allows users to filter just the messages that are important to them, cutting out the digital noise when needed. At the same time the functionality also allows users to be connected and never face the one thing we all hate experiencing… running out of battery.
What value does Gianoi have that makes it stand out against other startups in the space?
We are not really in the wearable technology ‘’space’’ as such, we think of ourselves as a fashion brand first. This is also our biggest differentiator, our fashion items embed technology that is functional but is also invisible. We focus on creating products that women want to wear and look good with, rather than wearing an item that just serves a technology purpose. [Editor’s note: Check out our blog post from @bigmediumjosh that discusses this topic further.]
How does the technology in your handbags work? Is it complicated to use?
A lot of research and development went into making the product a stylish and trend-focused fashion piece, and into making the functionality as easy to use as possible.
The handbag charges your phone while you are on the move: there is a standard USB plug inside the handbag pocket, and a super sleek charging plate to top up your bag again when you get home – basically there is never any need to run out of battery on the go again.
The bag also connects wirelessly to your iPhone via a special app you download. This is to notify you of calls, messages or social updates when your iPhone is tucked away inside your bag. The bag notifies you by gently pulsating the light on the logo when you receive a new notification. You can choose what notifications you want to receive on your bag, via different colours, like Phone calls, Whats App, Instagram–so your handbag becomes a filter between you and your busy life, alerting you of only the important notifications you need.
What has been one of the most challenging parts of getting started? How did you overcome this and what did you learn?
Blending the worlds of fashion and technology has been challenging, it takes time and perseverance, and it’s taken us over two years to get to where we are now.
Technology companies are very focused on developing functional products and they rarely think about aesthetics. Although some wearable tech brands have started to consider the ‘look’ of a product because the fashion industry is starting to embrace technology a little more. But ultimately, fashion brands are more concerned with aesthetics rather than function. We wanted to marry the two with the best of both worlds.
Where can we buy your products and what is the cost?
Our collection is available now in pre-order with a special 25% discount across all styles, via our website, and we’re shipping in Autumn 2015. The range will also be available at selected high-end retailers by the end of this year. Prices range from £290 to £1180.
What can we expect next from Gianoi?
We have several new product ideas in the pipeline that will be announced early next year, and we will be expanding the range into mens’s accessories too. There are a lot of exciting things to come, so stay tuned!
To learn more about Gianoi check out the video below and their website here.
Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.