Google Glass can do everything from snap photos to aid navigation. But one thing it can't do--so far, at least--is make you look cool. Outside nerdy tech niches, most are reluctant to embrace the $1,500 reality-augmenting eyewear that's been mercilessly ridiculed by the likes of SNL.
In an effort to change that, Google has just hired the fashion-savvy Ivy Ross as the new head of Glass. A design and marketing expert who has worked for Calvin Klein, Mattel, Swatch, Gap, Coach, and more, Ross’s task at Google will be making the wearable technology marketable to the style-conscious masses.
Ross will take over the position formerly held by Babak Parviz, and will collaborate closely with Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Google X head Astro Teller. This is not her first time marketing eyewear--in the early ‘90s, the Harvard-trained Ross was Vice President of Design and Development for Outlook Eyewear at contact lens manufacturer Bausch & Lomb.
The hire is Google’s latest attempt to court the fashion market, and is a sign of the expanding intersection between fashion and wearable tech. Glass made a glossy appearance in a 12-page spread in Vogue’s September issue, where it was the accessory of choice in a sci-fi dystopia, alongside a piece called “Google Glass and a Futuristic Vision of Fashion.” Last February, Glass teamed up with eyewear brand Warby Parker to make hipster-friendly versions of the high-tech specs. (We suggested in January that they set their augmented sights higher and get Prada and Gucci on the design team.) The wearable made its runway debut at the Diane Von Furstenburg show at NYFW, where it was used to record behind-the-scenes footage. So far, these efforts haven't quite turned Glass into a staple accessory for fashionistas. But under Ross’s guidance, and with a large-scale consumer launch later this year, maybe that will change.