7 posts tagged "Google Glass"
Wearables are no longer a hypothetical. They’re here. They’re happening. And now, they’re available at Net-a-Porter. This week, the luxury e-tailer officially began selling DVF Made for Glass, a collection of men’s and women’s smart specs and shades that Diane von Furstenberg (who sent Google Glass down her Spring ’13 runway) has created in collaboration with Google. “Our eyes were on a few different products,” said Net-a-Porter president Alison Loehnis. “But when Diane partnered with Google Glass two years ago, it was amazing. It was the perfect balance of fashion and technology.” Net-a-Porter is the first independent online retailer to sell Glass, and according to Loehnis, this particular project has been in the works for about a year.
Net-a-Porter’s shoppers are discerning, and considering the website’s selection of high-fashion wares, they have pretty great taste. But will the woman who’s filling her shopping bag with Alexander McQueen dresses, Nicholas Kirkwood shoes, and Givenchy handbags buy Google Glass, a product that most would argue has yet to reach its aesthetic peak? “We really think [Google Glass] complements what we already have on the site. Our customers want things first. They embrace newness across all categories,” Loehnis said. As for the specs’ appearance (how does one make camera-embellished frames elegant?), Loehnis thinks Glass is getting there. “They’ve evolved so much from the original product,” she said of DVF Made for Glass, which comes in a range of colors and slim styles. “It’s a hybrid—we look at it as an accessory that’s also a technology piece.” She does, however, admit that Google’s smart shades serve a very different purpose than fashion frames. They’re not a replacement, but a supplement, so don’t fret—Net-a-Porter will still stock your favorite Prada and Chloé sunnies.
I’ve been pretty hard on wearable tech. And I’m still not sold on the idea of being connected to everyone and everything all day via a face computer. But the fact of the matter is, the wearables market is expanding (Apple announced its forthcoming smart watch last week, and yesterday, Google discussed its own line of watches, dubbed Android Wear), and Net-a-Porter’s embrace of Glass lends it a certain fashion cachet. Brands often see NAP as the holy grail of retailers, not only because of its outreach but because of its ability to make products instantly covetable. It’s still early days, but NAP is confident the glasses will sell—and sell well. Though it’s worth noting that for Glass’ $1,800 price tag you could buy a Miu Miu tote, a Rick Owens dress, or two pairs of Nicholas Kirkwood pumps instead.
During our conversation at Net-a-Porter’s New York headquarters, Loehnis made a smart comparison, likening the wearables of now to the tech cases of yore. “If you look back at the accessories market, years ago no one was making tech cases. It was like, you’ve got this new device, but where can you put it? It became quite a big deal when the industry created a whole category around this,” she said. “Technology is part of our world. It’s integrated seamlessly into our lives, so I would imagine that most people—not everyone—but most people are considering [wearable tech]. In meeting rooms around the world, I suspect these conversations are happening.”
And she’s probably (OK, certainly) right. But I had to ask Loehnis how she’ll go about converting Net-a-Porter addicts who are otherwise tech-phobic, like myself, to click buy. “To be honest, our customers tend to be ahead of the pack. I don’t think it will take a huge amount of convincing. And you don’t need to think about Google Glass as a continuous news feed. It can be used in a very targeted way,” she explained when I expressed my concern about being unable to escape the Internet. “For instance, earlier, we were talking about cooking. I think it’s the cutest idea that you could be sitting there making brownies with your children, and you might say, ‘Oh, how do I do this?’ and you can just look it up. So if you’re saying you would find it daunting, I’d say that you’re in control of how you’re using them.” I suppose in this particular baking scenario, Google Glass would help avoid a touchscreen or keyboard or—gasp! —cookbook marred by flour.
Soon enough, you might be able to get more than DVF’s Glass styles at the online shopping destination. Said Loehnis: “I think the [Google Glass] take-up will be very strong, and [wearables] are something we’re looking to develop. So watch this space!” We will—maybe even through Google Glass.
It’s happening. Fashion is fully embracing wearable tech. Today, Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter announced that, come June 23, they will be selling a range of DVF-designed Google Glasses on their websites for $1,700 a pop. If you’ll remember, von Furstenberg sent a gaggle of Google Glasses down her Spring ’13 runway, and at her Resort presentation today, she was sporting the latest style. (She’s pictured here with Style.com’s Nicole Phelps.)
Net-a-Porter’s luxury his-and-hers shopping platforms are the first third-party retailers to sell the high-fashion face computers. “We are thrilled to offer Glass to our tech-savvy customers who are true leaders and innovators in style and lifestyle,” said Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet. Will loyal customers actually add Google’s smart frames to their shopping carts along with their Kenzo frocks and Kirkwood heels? Only time will tell.
News 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.
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.
Google’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” »