In yet another attempt to class up Glass, Google has tapped Diane Von Furstenberg to design limited-edition frames. Much like the in-house designs that came out earlier this year, DVF has created more fashionable frames that attach to the high-tech headpiece. The line, which Google will unveil June 4, includes five new frames and eight new shades. Interested buyers can purchase the accessories on Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter starting June 23.
The new specs are an incremental improvement from other recent attempts to make the face computers look less awkward. The already-available Glass frames come in one shade of black; DVF offers a bit more flair with frames available in brown and four other colors. The sunglasses also sport the "DVF" logo in the top corner, a la Ray Ban. The main appeal is exclusivity, something Glass has started to lose as it has allowed more people to purchase the device. For this promotion, Google is only selling a limited, undisclosed number of DVF creations.
There's only so much Google can do to dress up (or hide) the chunky metal object protruding off of a Glass wearer's face. Certainly more frame options in different shapes, sizes, and colors will appeal to a broader set of people. But will this partnership help Glass overcome its cyborg reputation, when not much else has worked? The initial frames, which came out in January, were a huge step up from naked-Glass. This doesn't push the needle too much further.
Nor does the mere attachment to DVF's brand guarantee success. Since its inception, Glass has made alliances with the fashion world. Diane Von Furstenberg has already collaborated with Glass, having her models walk the runway with the face accessory. That, plus a spread in Vogue, plus a push at fashion week, haven't diminished the curse of the Glasshole. What makes this DVF partnership any different than those efforts?
Google, to its credit, has not given up on the fashion angle. Earlier this month, the company hired marketing fashion guru Ivy Ross to improve Glass's mass perception. Ross has worked with Calvin Klein, Swatch, Gap, Coach, and others. This DVF collaboration will likely be the first of many brand partnerships. Google's deal with eyewear giant Luxottica suggests Glass frames will eventually be available in many varieties at a mall near you.
Style is probably the easiest fix of Glass's problems. As Wired's Mat Honan argued after a year of wearing Glass, the gadget just isn't that useful. "Aside from directions, it's more novelty than utility. The really cool stuff remains on the horizon, which means I got tired of it before I’d had it for even a year," he wrote. The shunning of Glass wearers has pushed even the most vocal of fans away from the device.
But Google remains committed to Glass and the idea that it will eventually be embraced by mainstream wearers.
"From smartphones to high-waisted jeans, it takes time for society to get used to new ideas," Isabelle Olsson, the lead designer for Google Glass, told Fast Company. "Explorers always tell me how much they love being able to get the information they need from Glass and then get on with their day. A lot of people want that freedom. Today, the majority of consumers haven’t had a chance to try Glass out. That’s why I’m looking forward to moving from our beta phase to a consumer launch down the line."