When Google announced its Google Glass partnership with Ray-Ban and Oakley maker Luxottica in January, headlines blared that Glass had likely solved its fashion problem. Luxottica makes cool eyewear, so their take on Google Glass will be infused with cool, and people will wear it, the logic goes.
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But those cooler Glasses won’t hit the market until 2015, the company projected. In the meantime, Google Glass superfan Diane von Furstenberg — remember her 2012 Glass-heavy fashion show, the setting of this infamous picture? — is giving it a try.
It’s the world’s first look at Glass designed by an outsider. How does it look? Not so different from the curved frames and wraparound shades in the Google-designed collection debuted in January.
Von Furstenberg’s DVF Made for Glass collection, a mix of sunglasses and prescription frames available June 23, has a retro flair and offers more subtle color options. It still, quite noticeably, has a computer on it — though its prominence could be a pro or a con, depending on the user.
The partnership suggests that Google thinks the way to some users’ hearts is through their sense of fashion rather than through their desire for its functionality and utility. And design improvements could make Glass meld more seamlessly with a pair of glasses.
But they won’t solve Glass’s “cool” problem. As long as Glass feels like an unfamiliar concept, tacking it into familiar (or chic and familiar) objects won’t help. People will still focus on the screen. Still, the people behind Glass seem convinced that attitudes and tastes will change over time — something anyone in fashion can understand.
The new collection did lead to one interesting observation: Sunglasses might make Glass much more palatable than the lens-free or clear lens versions. In a video for Elle, von Furstenberg shows Elle’s fashion news director Anne Slowey how to use the new collection.
As they chat, the designer runs her finger along the side of her sunglasses — but she never falls into that faraway stare of a Glass user gazing into the corner screen. Or, at least, you can’t see if she does.
“See, the good thing about the sunglasses is I can’t tell is I can’t tell that you’re not looking at me,” Slowey said.
Follow Ellen Huet on Twitter at @ellenhuet.