“When it was first released in April 2015, the Apple Watch immediately became the most in-demand tech item of the season, dominating 75 percent of the smart watch market within its first quarter of sales. With Apple’s cult following and an array of applications not offered by more traditional fitness trackers, like FitBit and Pebble, the watch has gradually been able to corner the wearables market in the past three years. Apple became the biggest shipper of wearables in 2017, owning 21 percent of the market share, according to a March IDC report.
Apple’s big secret in its steady domination? A boost from designer fashion.
“The strategy was to really try to separate the watch from just another fitness tracker,” said Maribel Lopez, Apple analyst and founder of Lopez Research. “They easily could have wanted what I call the ‘tech chic’ market, but that wasn’t a broad enough market.”
Instead, in 2015 Apple began partnering with designers like Hermès to allow them to capture a broader market of luxury consumers interested in the appeal of heritage fashion brands. Since then, designers including Coach, Kate Spade, and Nike have also partnered with the tech giant to create trendy bands at high price points.
The Apple Watch Hermès can run up to nearly $1400, roughly three times the cost of the most basic Apple Watch. The partnerships have allowed Apple not just to claim more physical retail space but expand to a new market of fashion-savvy consumers who might not buy into Apple as a luxury fashion product on its own.”