A fashion accessory with a social mission challenges the function of wearable tech.

Political Lace is an elegant detachable collar embedded with an LED device that flashes every 7.5 minutes, the rate at which young women die during childbirth.

Political Lace designed by Melissa Coleman. Photograph: Claudia Rocha/Handout

Designed by London-based creative technologist Melissa Coleman, whose work explores the relationship between body, culture and technology, the accessory acts as an ethical talking point, providing consumers with a reason to have a political conversation and a chance to truly wear what they stand for. In contrast to the majority of wearables on the market, which track health and fitness, Political Lace looks past the self and instead inspires contemplation about a cause.

Recently on display at digital arts center La Gaîté Lyrique in Paris and now showing in New York at the Coded_Couture exhibition, the collar is one of several products that are redefining wearables by fusing fashion and technology with ethics. For example, the Holy Dress, also designed by Coleman, comes equipped with a built-in lie detector that punishes fibbers with an electric shock.

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In November 2015, UNICEF announced the winners of its Wearables for Good challenge, which sought to develop low-cost wearable tech to improve the lives of women and children. The winner, Khushi Baby, is a necklace that tracks and stores immunization records, helping provide more accurate data for public health initiatives.

With the wearable technology market forecasted to reach $70 billion by 2025, according to market research firm IDTechEx, and 19% consumers preferring to give back by purchasing socially responsible products, according to research firm Good.Must.Grow, this category of wearables has significant growth potential.

For consumers, Political Lace provides an opportunity to express identity and values through clothing, and for fashion and technology brands, it represents an entirely new area for product innovation.

Wearable technology is proving that it influences categories beyond health, and brands should consider it in this wider context. For more, see the carbon-tracking wristband Worldbeing, as featured in the Future 100.