Just in time for Christmas Macy’s has unveiled a new fashion item that marries apparel with technology. In select stores now are men’s fleece sweaters from Sean Jean that feature a video screen – an iPod of sorts – embedded in the left sleeve.

Macys brandThis melding of fashion and technology, as Macy’s calls it, enables the wearer to watch a video as he’s walking with friends or out on the town.

This might seem to be the epitome of brand. But it’s not. Brand is how the customer sees himself, not how others see him.

Middle-aged men, for example, don’t buy sports cars so the neighbors will think they are cool. In fact, the neighbors may regard an old guy and a hot car as ridiculous. Instead, sports cars make men feel young, especially when they’re in the midst of a mid-life crisis. That’s the definition of brand.

Consider this: We all buy brands that no one sees. We prefer a brand of underwear that no one sees. Or a type of laundry detergent no one sees.

Macy’s odd marriage of fashion and technology is a fad, at best. Video sweaters don’t tell consumers who they are when they sport one of these hybrids.

If anything, these hi-tech items simply scream “show off.”