This weekend, while flipping through Marie Claire‘s September issue, I was reminded that Nina Garcia has vowed to wear Google Glass throughout Fashion Week. That means front-row live streams of runways shows will be projected through the eyes of the Project Runway judge. Pretty neat.
Vogue is also enamored with Google Glass, giving the lenses a starring role in a September issue fashion spread. Chic.
With those two haute endorsements, Google must be feeling pretty great about its product’s coolness factor. Especially since it plans to begin selling Google Glass to consumers at the beginning of 2014. However, there’s a problem with this “Google Glass as fashion accessory” talk. The glasses, with their wire frames and goofy lens shape, are pretty ugly. Like, objectively ugly.
A lot of “ugly” stuff can also be categorized as fashion: Birkenstocks, Uggs, Juicy Couture tracksuits. And it’s true that it’s all about perception: what one person might find hideous another will deem compelling.
But most “ugly” fashion items have one thing in common: they’re practical. And if Google Glass is anything, it is not that. Sure, people wear nonprescription glasses for fun, but how un-fun would it be to to wear a pair of obstructive glasses every single day if you didn’t have to? My contacts-devoted husband, who likes the look of glasses but hates the feel, might have summed it up best: “Why would I wear something on my face that does exactly what my phone does? My phone fits in my pocket. Where it’s hidden.”
And there lies the problem with products like Google Glass, the Nike wristband, and the impeding iWatch. They’re novelties. The only way a novelty can become a necessity is if it A. makes the user’s life infinitely easier/more interesting and B. is design with a restraint so precise that it appeals to a broad audience.
With its cool-but-not-flashy design, the Nike wristband has accomplished that—to an extent. (Whether or not you really need a Nike wristband is questionable.) We can’t yet say if the iWatch will be what it needs to be. But I’m pretty confident that, for Google Glass to succeed, a design upgrade must be made.
Enter Warby Parker. Rumors of a Google-Warby partnership have been swirling for almost a year. Who knows if that talks ever got anywhere, but if the two brands could somehow engineer a pair of well-designed, but still high-tech, glasses, it could be a boon to both companies. Because if there’s any truth in fashion, is that everybody loves a collaboration.