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April 17 2014

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5 posts tagged "Google Glass"

Fashion Over Function: Why Wearable Tech Is the Worst

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Google GlassNews broke yesterday morning that Google has enlisted Luxottica—the company that crafts eyewear for such brands as Prada, Ray-Ban, Chanel, Versace, and beyond—to make Google Glass less hideous. That’s all good and fine—at least the Internet giant is placing an appropriate amount of importance on aesthetics. But I have to be honest: I am deeply tired of hearing about, writing about, and thinking about wearable tech. I have no desire to be hooked up to a device all day. The nonstop e-mail-induced vibrating of my iPhone already gives me heart palpitations, and I don’t need my rings, bracelets, and specs incessantly nagging me, too.

Considering Apple’s recent hires—Saint Laurent’s former CEO of special projects Paul Deneve and Burberry’s former CEO Angela Ahrendts—and Humberto Leon and Carol Lim’s partnership with Intel, wearable tech is no doubt about to explode. And it has the potential to generate big business among Millennials who are lost without their tablets, smartphones, and various other gadgets. I’m just not interested in participating in this particular big bang.

That’s not to say that wearable tech isn’t impressive from, well, you know, a tech standpoint. I find it mind-boggling that a Nike Fuel Band has the capacity to track your steps and calories burned, and then spit that information out into the World Wide Web. However, I’m unsure why the world (or the NSA, for that matter) needs to know your, or my, workout routine. Nor do I enjoy being bombarded on Facebook by everyone’s “humble brags” about how many miles they ran today. I’ve unfriended people for less. But I digress.

As someone who has dedicated my life to fashion, I refuse to compromise on the appearance of a garment or accessory. I’d much prefer to spend my wages on a decadent pair of low-tech vintage sunnies than on a mediocre style with Wi-Fi.

Furthermore, when is enough tech enough? Despite the fact that it doubles as my career, fashion is my escape—and I think a lot of people feel that way. When I slip on a new dress or place my favorite hat upon my head, I get butterflies in my stomach. All my troubles dissolve (if only for an instant), and it’s as though I’ve been transported to my own personal sartorial oasis. Why on earth would I trade in those moments of bliss for a flashing frock with 4G capabilities?

And what’s so great about being connected all the time, anyway? Forever burned in my mind is an election party I attended in 2012. The invitees were educated, opinionated, entertaining, and dynamic, but for a good portion of the evening, I had to check their Twitter feeds in order to get their thoughts on the polls. What could have been a riveting few hours of discussion was diminished to a silent, nonstop tweet-fest. While I sat there with my iPhone tucked in my handbag (my mother always told me that it was rude to stare at one’s phone in social situations because it makes your company feel as though they’re not important), mumbling to myself, all I could think was, What a waste. Can you imagine how much worse this will become if we’re not required to take the extra step of reaching into our pockets to tweet, Instagram, e-mail, Facebook, etc.? If the Internet is latched onto our wrists or eyes, will we even speak to each other anymore?

Perhaps I’m a Luddite. And you know what? I’m OK with that. I’d prefer to be stuck in the last century than to look and live like some kind of Star Trekkian android.

Even so, I wish nothing but the best of luck to Google and Luxottica in making high-fashion face computers.

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

Google Sees Its Glass Half Full

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If Chanel’s Couture trainers taught us anything, it’s that you don’t have to sacrifice style for practicality. Unfortunately, this marriage of fashion and function has been difficult to digest when it comes to wearable tech. For its latest upgrade, Google’s Internet-enabled Glass eyewear will roll out prescription lenses, available in four frame styles (Bold, Curve, Thin, and Split) with the option of two tints (Classic and Edge). Add that to Glass’ original designs, and wearers will have forty combinations of colors, frames, and shades to choose from, CNET reports.

While those in the market for Google Glass will now be spoilt for choice (as evidenced by the above short showcasing the new frames), the glasses still fail to strike that balance between style and functionality. The Internet goliath probably isn’t terribly concerned about that just yet, since Glass is available only to those in its Explorer program (with an entry fee of $1,500). But with the company’s plans to take Glass to the public market come late 2014, we suggest that Google makes those Warby Parker collaboration rumors a reality.

Fashion and Function: Opening Ceremony’s Carol Lim Talks Teaming Up With Intel

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Humberto Leon and Carol LimGoogle’s not the only company that can play the tech-meets-fashion game. Last night at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich announced the corporation’s new plan to produce functional tech accessories that are both wearable and aesthetically pleasing. Impossible? Not when you have Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim on your team. The duo will design a smart bracelet, which, currently under development, will be unveiled at a yet-to-be-revealed date.

But one bracelet does not a revolution make, so in addition to OC, Intel has tapped Barneys (who will sell the forthcoming wristband and future products) and the CFDA (who will help emerging designers get on Intel’s wearable gadget bandwagon) to assist with the project.

Earlier today, Ayse Ildeniz, Intel’s VP of Business Development and Strategy of New Devices, hosted a panel to discuss the push. She was joined by OC’s Bettina Chin (Director of Special Projects) and Su Barber (Art Director), the CFDA’s Adam Roth (Director of Strategic Partnerships), and Barneys’ Matthew Woolsey (SVP of Digital). The takeaway from their chat? While functionality is key, the products have got to look great (if you recall, one of the biggest complaints about Google Glass, pairs of which were worn on Diane von Furstenberg’s Spring ’13 runway, was that it wasn’t exactly the sleekest thing on the block). “If wearables are to take off, it has to be an industry effort, and fashion and aesthetics have to be involved,” Ildeniz told Style.com after the panel. Woolsey concurred. “The design element is paramount to the way in which our customer engages with [the product],” he said. It’s worth noting that, through this project, Barneys will become the first luxury retailer to carry wearables.

So can Leon and Lim do for wearable tech what they did for Kenzo—that is to say, make it the cool set’s new must-have? Unfortunately, some blizzard-induced flight delays prevented Lim from attending the conference and addressing that in person. However, with a little help from a smartphone, Style.com was able to catch up with Lim about why OC and Intel are a natural fit, how she plans to make wearable tech covetable, and how her collaborative device will not only allow people to plug in, but offer them the option to turn off.

Why did you and Humberto say yes to the Intel project?
Technology in all forms has been really important to us, not only in our store and our collections, but also in terms of online retail. We had been watching the wearable technology space for quite some time before Intel approached us. We’d been thinking about how to incorporate [wearables] into our collection, so when this project came along, we thought it was a great opportunity. Intel represents such a strong force in technology, so we were happy to lend our design sensibility, and it makes sense to partner with someone whom we consider to be the expert.

Do you feel confident that the end result will resonate with the Opening Ceremony customer?
Absolutely. If you look at how people operate today, they use so many devices and applications. I think [wearable technology] is the next step in terms of how people interact. Your phone’s generally by your side, but you don’t always get a chance to look at it, so I think this product is a natural progression.

As far as stereotypes go, “fashion” people and “tech” people are about as opposite as you can get. How do you hope to bridge this perceived gap? And considering you design for Kenzo as well as Opening Ceremony, do you see wearable tech translating into luxury fashion?
When Intel approached us, they basically said, “We’re experts in technology, and we would rely on you to be experts in the field of creating an item that can stand on its own—an item that is beautiful, and that people will want.” I think that marriage of two partners with different talents is going to be very interesting. And you’re right, the fashion industry has been slow to adopt wearable technology. But I think that’s because it’s usually coming only from a technology point of view, rather than a combination of tech and design aesthetic. Our focus will be to create a covetable item that someone would want to wear regardless of the tech aspect. So I think this collaboration with Intel will stand out from other devices. Continue Reading “Fashion and Function: Opening Ceremony’s Carol Lim Talks Teaming Up With Intel” »

Geek Chic

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iPhone Dress

When it comes to its fashion sense, the Ivy League is ditching prep for tech. Cornell University’s nanotechnology laboratory is merging science and design to create smart fashions, like a bodysuit that repels mosquitoes, a copper-textile mask that protects from toxic gas, or the slightly less frightening frock that can charge an iPhone. Now, if only they could make the Google Glass look appealing.

Photo: Robert Barker/Cornell University

Plugged In: High Tech Fashion at The Museum at FIT

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When side by side, the words fashion and technology oft conjure images of barely wearable ensembles destined for Lady Gaga. But at the Museum at FIT’s latest exhibition, Fashion and Technology, which opened yesterday, co-curators Ariele Elia and Emma McClendon reveal that technology is a crucial part of our ordinary wares. Spanning 250 years of innovation, the show covers such everyday inventions as the washing machine, rayon, and the zipper. But that’s not to say it’s without sci-fi novelties. For instance, there are jazzy space race-era looks by the likes of Pierre Cardin and Emilio Pucci. Also on display are garments by André Courrèges, who, convinced that space would soon become a hot holiday destination, developed an entire intergalactic wardrobe, complete with a sleek PVC helmet and moon boots.

However, as Diane von Furstenberg notes in a video playing at the exhibition, “Things we thought would be sci-fi exist.” Case in point, von Furstenberg’s Spring ’13 collaboration with Google Glass. Of course, she’s not the only Internet-savvy designer. In 1996, Jean Paul Gaultier created a cyberspace-inspired jumpsuit (pictured above). And don’t even get us started on social media’s fashion influence. Remember the frenzy Burberry caused when it released its Spring ’12 collection on Twitter before it hit the runway?

Perhaps most high-tech is the exhibition’s tiny LilyPad Arduino circuit board, which, when sewn into clothing, is pretty much a wearable computer. “You first see things like wearable electronics in places like athletic wear and the military,” said McClendon, explaining that it’s only later that most designers realize tech-fashion’s artistic potential. A cutting-edge innovation that may take a little longer to catch on? Clothing “grown” from bacteria. Not sure if we’re ready for a “BioCouture” top just yet.

Fashion and Technology is on display at the Museum at FIT from December 4 to May 8.

Photo: Courtesy of The Museum at FIT