Editor's pick product technology

In wearables, design needs to come before tech, says Levi’s

The wearables industry is expected to double in market value to $27bn+ by 2022, according to CCS Insight. But for Paul Dillinger, VP of Global Product Innovation at Levi’s, consumers will only fully invest in these tech accessories if they look good once turned off.

“We aren’t building a product just for the technology”, he said at a conversation during the Fashinnovation conference in NYC this week. “This has to be a technology integrated with things that you already want to wear because even if the technology isn’t engaging, people still want to wear their Levi’s jean jacket,” he later told TheCurrent Daily.

He was joined on stage by Ivan Poupyrev, Google’s Head of Advanced Technology and Projects, who worked with the denim brand on the original Project Jacquard jacket, which uses a sensor on the cuff to control music, screen phone calls, and even receive notifications from Uber or Lyft. Google famously thought tech-first when it designed its now defunct Google Glass, but it (naturally) believes trial and error is part of the process: “You put the product in the market, learn from mistakes, and do it again.” According to Poupyrev, however, unlike the Glass, there was a strong focus on the physical appearance of the smart jacket, wherein technology came in to simply extend its functions.

Now, instead of creating a product from scratch, Google is focusing on working with established brands in the industry, who can teach the tech giant a thing or two about what fashion customers want. “We realized that if you want to change the nature of apparel, as a connected and intelligent garment, you need to work with someone who has expertise in making apparel,” said Poupyrev. “Not just a prototype, but someone who understands how to scale all the way from the design to the supply chain and marketing. That was a shift  in thinking in the company as well.”

The Levi’s Commuter x Google Jacquard jacket
The Levi’s Commuter x Google Jacquard jacket

Since Levi’s is one of the world’s biggest brands in denim, a partnership with the brand was an important strategic decision. While the classic Levi’s jacket retails at $150 or less, the smart model retails at $350. For Dillinger, customers who chose the premium alternative should expect the technology to continue to evolve with time.

In 2017, six months after it was first introduced to the market, it received a series of updates, such as enabling it to work with Uber and Lyft. Just before Christmas, it added a functionality where the jacket sent the user a pin drop notification in case the owner left it behind. “That was a new value that no one was expecting for it or paid for it,” he said. “That promise of sustained improvement puts the purchase in the context of a lifetime, instead of a moment.”

Just like a smartphone, the jacket keeps improving. But unlike a shiny new iPhone, a Levi’s jacket customer is looking for design that is timeless and not forced into obsolescence. “You can talk about improvements of a phone, but eventually that phone won’t be the one you want to have any more. This garment, this jean jacket, stays in perpetuity, so the value will continue to go up”, added Dillinger.

For all its innovation, this is still an early attempt at a mass-market smart denim jacket. But as the technology becomes more deeply integrated into people’s lives, the wearable category may well begin to move beyond its early adopters.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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What you missed: Amazon Fashion developments, the Farfetch and deal, London’s smart street

Amazon Prime Wardrobe - Amazon Fashion
Amazon Prime Wardrobe

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the past fortnight.

  • Will Amazon eat fashion? [BoF]
  • Farfetch boss hails US$397m tie-up with, says partnership will speed up luxury fashion portal’s growth in China [SCMP]
  • World’s first “smart street” launches in London [The Industry]
  • For brands, fitting rooms are the key to unlocking valuable customer data [Glossy]

  • Why Walmart bought Bonobos [BoF]
  • Inside the costly fashion faux pas that was ill-fated [Telegraph]

  • Amazon Pay rolls out its first payments integration on Instagram [GeekWire]
  • Fashion retailers are reconsidering their chatbot strategies [Glossy]

  • The xx’s new music video is also a Calvin Klein ad [Campaign]
  • Asos praised for using ‘natural’ unretouched images of models [The Drum]
  • Has Unilever’s ambition to eradicate gender stereotyping from its own ads been successful? [The Drum]

  • Why retail flagships are running aground [AdAge]
  • In the Amazon era, debating the store of the future [Glossy]
  • Amazon, now a physical retailer too, is granted an anti-showrooming patent [TechCrunch]

  • Why retail labs are toast [AdAge]
  • Survey: 45% of retailers plan to use AI in next 3 years [Retail Dive]
  • How L’Oréal uses virtual reality to make internal decisions at its New York HQ [Glossy]
  • Google Glass is apparently back from the dead, starts getting software updates [ArsTechnica]

  • Stitch Fix has hired a new CFO. An IPO probably comes next [Recode]
business digital snippets e-commerce film social media Startups technology

What you missed: Snapchat’s spectacles, driving see-now buy-now sales, Cartier’s sponsored content

Snapchat spectacles
Snapchat spectacles

It might have been Milan Fashion Week, but the majority of musing worth knowing about in the digital space this past week surrounds the launch of Snapchat’s (now Snap Inc’s) new camera glasses. On top of that has been everything from whether see-now, buy-now fashion week shows are actually driving sales, the fact McQueen and Chanel top a new CoolBrands list, and why LVMH’s digital drive is taking time despite its big Apple hire. Read on for a breakdown of everything you need to know…

  • Why Snapchat’s spectacles can succeed where Google Glass failed [AdAge]
  • Are ‘see now, buy now’ shows driving sales? [BoF]
  • Neiman Marcus is encouraging brands to adopt ‘see-now, buy-now’ strategy [Fashionista]
  • Alexander McQueen and Chanel make top 20 global CoolBrands list [The Industry]
  • Inside Cartier’s sponsored content strategy [Glossy]

  • LVMH’s digital drive takes time despite Apple hire [Reuters]
  • Adidas and Under Armour are challenging Nike like never before [Business Insider]
  • Tiffany proposes growth through engagement in the digital age [BrandChannel]

  • YSL Beauté reveals first ever UK Snapchat lens [The Industry]
  • Adidas claims retention on Snapchat is ‘insane’ compared to YouTube [The Drum]
  • Teens talk Instagram beauty influencers and what makes them buy [Racked]
  • Here’s how much engagement brands got from back-to-school social posts [AdWeek]
  • Google launches messaging app with chatbot [Campaign]
  • Branded emojis coming to messaging apps [WSJ]

  • Gap teams up with Mr Black to raise awareness for denim care [Fashion United]
  • Bobbi Brown initiates mobile makeovers with Uber [WWD]

  • How designer Rebecca Minkoff uses technology to create a better shopping experience [The Street]
  • BHS to launch online a month after last store closed [Guardian]
  • Zara fashions an expanded online growth strategy [BrandChannel]

  • The secret lab where Nike invented the power-lacing shoe of our dreams [Wired]
  • No. 21 Sends shoes that glow in the dark down the Milan Fashion Week runway [Footwear News]

  • Carmen Busquets, fashion e-commerce’s fairy godmother [NY Times]
  • Where is the Uber of fashion? [Forbes]
Blocks technology

Smart glasses: Finally ready for take-off?


If you thought smart glasses began and ended with Google Glass, you’re mistaken. At least according to the wearable tech analysts at Juniper Research. They’ve launched a new report that says shipments will top 12m by 2020, with a growth spurt coming after 2017.

While admitting that the market has stalled somewhat and is actually 15 months behind previous expectations due to Google pulling (then re-starting) its much-hyped Glass product, Juniper is expecting big things due to some new technology and re-focus in the market.

And the growth it expects will be some feat given that only around 1m products in this category are likely to be shipped this year.

So what’s the tech that’s going to make it happen? Microsoft’s HoloLens. Juniper expects it to kick-start further development and interest in the category.

Announced at the same time as Windows 10, HoloLens will finally start shipping (for developers, not the general public) in Q1 this year. HoloLens is an augmented reality headset that’s basically a cordless Windows 10 computer. We’re not exactly talking about a fashion accessory here. But it’s interesting nonetheless. Check out this video to see what it can do:

So is there any other development happening in smart glasses? Of course there is. ODG (with its R7 product based on an Android operating system), Sony, Meta and potentially Magic Leap, also have products set to move beyond developer-only devices and into more general availability.

And then there’s Google Glass 2, which is meant to launch this year, this time targeted at business rather than leisure users.

But will they have much more success than Google Glass 1 did? I actually tried out a pair of Googles Glasses back in mid-2014 and really wanted to like them. But while the Google rep said they’d liberate me from staring at my smartphone all day, having to tilt my head up and down to scroll through web pages didn’t feel very liberating! Nor did having everyone stare at me because of the strange glasses I was wearing.

In fact, it felt like this was yet another tech product (just like the smartwatch) where the tech guys didn’t so much meet a consumer demand, as developed the tech and hoped it would be appealing enough to create the demand later.


But tech firms have learnt their lessons, it seems. What’s different about the newer breed of smart eyewear is that they’ve realised trying to integrate them seamlessly into our everyday lives isn’t really on. They’re not fashion items with added functionality, and they’re not mini computers that can be made to look fashionable and feel like ordinary glasses.

This time round, their makers are targeting the business market and the augmented reality users, which means the products will be used in very specific scenarios, not to look generally cool while also giving you directions to the nearest bus stop.

Maybe one day we really will see smart glasses like those Geordi LaForge wore in Star Trek Next Generation. Now that would be smart…


This post first appeared on, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

Blocks Editor's pick social media technology

Robots, holograms and wearables: a tech history of fashion week

This post first appeared on

Diane von Furstenberg spring/summer 2013

Memorable moments during fashion month used to surround incidents like Anna Wintour being splattered with paint by anti-fur protesters, or Naomi Campbell taking a tumble in those sky-high Vivienne Westwood shoes. There have been incredible sets – Fendi on the Great Wall of China, everything from an airplane to a supermarket at Chanel and a giant steam train when Marc Jacobs was at Louis Vuitton.

Today, however, technology is becoming the new differentiator and the main means of grabbing attention — not to mention press headlines — during the shows. Thus far this season, Ralph Lauren has streamed his runway show on billboards in London’s Piccadilly Circus via Periscope, Zac Posen partnered with Google to reveal a dress coded with moving LED lights and Intel introduced drones to fly overhead at numerous shows.

“Technology can be a point of differentiation and a source of competitive advantage in a crowded fashion marketplace,” says Karinna Nobbs, program director and senior lecturer of digital fashion strategy at the British School of Fashion. “If you do something well you can really get good PR coverage and be seen as a first mover/innovator, which should translate to sales and loyalty.”

Even if it doesn’t add to the user experience, nor directly impact a brand’s bottom line, technology integrated into a fashion show is often about a designer exercising his or her creative freedom, in a similar way to theatrical extravagances of the past. That said, some of the most elaborate tech ideas showcased during fashion weeks past actually took place well before you could Instagram them. Here’s our history of technology and the designers who have embraced it since 1999.


Alexander McQueen spring/summer 1999

There might be hot debate in current times about where artificial intelligence is likely to lead us, but robots in some form or another have long appeared at fashion week. For spring/summer 1999, Alexander McQueen presented one of the most famous moments of his career when two robots spray-painted a dress worn by model Shalom Harlow in shades of black and yellow as she spun on a revolving platform.

In 2007, Hussein Chalayan showcased a vision of our future wardrobes based on garments that changed shape. A Victorian dress unfurled to reveal a flapper style and a tiered design shortened into a mini, all thanks to microchips and animatronics. This was wearable tech before wearable tech.

Fendi autumn/winter 2014/15

Jump to autumn/winter 2014, and drones hit the runway at Fendi, circling above the heads of show-goers to live stream content back to viewers at home. The resulting experience was terrible, but it grabbed headlines for Fendi all over the world.

Wearable technology

Speaking of wearable technology, it goes without saying that designers today are increasingly experimenting with how to embed things like electronics and connected devices into their collections. To highlight that fact, Diane von Furstenberg provided a particularly noteworthy story when she sent Google Glass down her runway in September 2012. Models wore the augmented reality eyewear as they paraded the designer’s spring/summer 2013 looks, capturing the scene around them for a video released at a later date. The finale saw DVF herself dragging Google co-founder Sergey Brin, along with her then-Creative Director Yvan Mispelaere, down the runway to take a bow with her.

Richard Nicoll spring/summer 2015

Last year we also saw the likes of Rebecca Minkoff and Diesel Black Gold featuring wearable tech accessories in their shows — and let’s not forget the work Dutch designer Iris van Herpen has been doing for a long time in 3D printing. Richard Nicoll, meanwhile, unveiled a slip dress made from a fiber-optic fabric activated by high intensity LED lights for spring/summer 2015 in partnership with Disney and Studio XO. The question remains, however, as to when the wearables trend will become more widespread.

Virtual reality

Topshop autumn/winter 2014/15

If you’re into gaming, you’re probably all over virtual reality (VR). Maybe you’ve already got your own headset. Fashion brands have been experimenting with those, too. Topshop first offered up such an opportunity when it provided customers with a VR experience in its London flagship store for autumn 2014. Specially commissioned Oculus Rift-based headsets enabled shoppers to see its catwalk show in real-time through a 3D virtual world. The aim was to make them feel as though the models were walking in front of their eyes and the celebrities were sitting right beside them.

DiorEyes virtual reality headset

Dior captured in 3D a backstage view of its show earlier this year, and proceeded to offer up that experience in select stores through its own VR headset, called DiorEyes. Users were able to explore the full 360 degrees of the backstage space, seeing the models during their final prep for the show surrounded by makeup artists, photographers and designer Raf Simons.

Rebecca Minkoff Google cardboard headset

Rebecca Minkoff filmed her February 2015 show for VR viewing, too. The process reportedly required two cameras with three dozen separate lenses to create footage that has just this week been released on a specially designed Google cardboard headset, into which you stick your smartphone. Democratising fashion week indeed.


If you weren’t already convinced Alexander McQueen was an innovator, then consider his autumn/winter 2006 collection, which featured a hologram of Kate Moss in the finale. The projection appeared within a glass pyramid surrounded by billows of white smoke. It was deemed fashion magic.

Holograms were also central to Polo Ralph Lauren’s spring/summer 2015 show. In what the brand referred to as a 4D holographic water projection, it showed models wearing the new collection against a 60-foot high fountain in Manhattan’s Central Park. The images were pretty blurry, making it hard to decipher much about the new collection, but like many other tech experiences, it grabbed headlines around the world.

Live action

With all these innovative ideas in mind, hearing that a brand is merely live streaming its show doesn’t really do it for us anymore. But once upon a time, this alone was big news. When Alexander McQueen streamed his spring/summer 2010 show — yes, it really is only that old — the event drew in so many fans, it crashed SHOWstudio’s website. While the fact that Lady Gaga was performing was arguably the biggest contributing factor there, it was also an early sign of just how much interest there was in fashion week happenings from fans around the world, especially when mixed with a little extra entertainment.

As the late designer said at the time: “I wanted to create a sense of inclusion for all those in the world who are interested in my work and the world of fashion. This is just the first step towards revolutionising the ‘show system’ as we know it.” While he personally never did do another live stream — that collection was to be the last before his death — the concept rapidly spread.

Burberry Tweetwalk spring/summer 2012

Designers providing ever-greater access through digital means has grown season after season. Burberry has been the pioneer in this sense. Its now iconic campaigns have included everything from a “Tweetwalk” that showcased images of the new line on Twitter before those sitting in the front row saw them, to its “Runway to Reality” (later “Runway Made to Order”) concept that offered consumers the ability to instantly purchase specific items from the new collection for delivery within seven weeks, instead of several months. There have also been personalised GIFs, digital kisses and the ability to buy nail polish via Twitter, but this season it’s been all about Snapchat.

Bring on the rest of spring/summer 2016, we say.

digital snippets e-commerce social media Startups technology

Digital snippets:, Etsy, The Iconic, Dezeen, DVF, Uber, Alexander McQueen

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…


  • What the end of means for the rest of fashion publishing [Fashionista]
  • Post IPO, Etsy CTO on its conservatively crafty tech philosophy [TechCrunch]
  • Online retailer The Iconic considers drone deliveries [AFR]
  • Old-school timepieces take a stand against the Apple Watch in humorous Dezeen campaign (as pictured) [PSFK]
  • Diane von Furstenberg and that Bruce Jenner Instagram gaffe [WWD]
  • Uber is quietly testing a massive merchant delivery program [TechCrunch]
  • Alexander McQueen explores fashion’s relationship to dance in new video campaign [Luxury Daily]
  • Reebok launches ‘Hunt the Pump’ Instagram treasure hunt [Marketing Magazine]
  • Japanese salarymen unleash their inner surfers with Quiksilver’s amazing wetsuit [Creativity]
  • Google didn’t kill Glass, it’s just making it sexier [Fast Company]
  • Nike and Under Armour look increasingly like tech companies; spending wildly to watch your every step [The Washington Post]
  • Why are major tech brands so obsessed with fashion? [i-D]
  • As technology and fashion converge, get ready for 3D-printed shoes, special parkas for smoggy days, and maybe even jeans that fit [The Atlantic]
  • Something old (bridal wear) meets the new (3D printing) [NY Times]
  • 3D-printed swimsuit’s design mimics water movement [PSFK]
  • Will drones take fashion into the future? [i-D]
  • Online fashion marketplace Poshmark raises $25 million funding round [BoF]
  • What does the ideal click and collect service look like? [Econsultancy]
  • In customer service, online-only retailers are beating out brick-and-mortar [Fashionista]
  • Refinery29 fetches $50 million investment from WPP and Scripps [AdAge]
  • WeChat publishing is changing China’s mediascape [BoF]
digital snippets e-commerce film social media technology

Digital snippets: eBay, Westfield, Harrods, wearables, Macy’s, Uggs, Mercedes-Benz, adidas

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…


  • eBay unveils retail platform: all about omni [WWD]
  • Kevin McKenzie, global chief digital officer at Westfield Group, on the mall of the future [BoF]
  • Harrods to focus on gamification after being ‘undeterred’ by mixed results [Retail Week]
  • The 7 best pieces of wearable tech we saw at CES [Fashionista]
  • Macy’s restructures to boost digital marketing, mulls off-price plans [MediaPost]
  • Uggs tests RFID in a bid to close the online-offline gap [Retail Week]
  • Mercedes-Benz just made a great fashion ad, and it’s a total piss-take [The Drum]
  • adidas launches Superstar campaign video featuring Rita Ora, David Beckham and Pharrell Williams [The Independent]
  • Lady Gaga has turned her Instagram selfies into ads for Japanese beauty brand Shiseido [Business Insider]
  • Max Factor puts a twist on the no-makeup selfie with #GlamJan campaign [Creativity Online]
  • Moncler creates fake snow app for online fun [Luxury Daily]
  • Montblanc announces a smart bracelet for your fancy watch [TechCrunch]
  • From robots to beacons, the future of retail is at hand [BrandChannel]
  • Snapchat wins hearts and minds on Madison Avenue [Digiday]
  • How Snapchat can help retailers kill ‘showrooming’ [AdAge]
  • As Pinterest pitches ads, brands flock to ‘Pinfluencers’ [WSJ]
  • Google stops selling Google Glass [Marketing Magazine]
  • How jewellery makers (not a tech company) finally cracked the battery problem for wearables [Forbes]
  • Cuff raises $5 million Series A and partners with Richline to bring smart jewellery to the mainstream [TechCrunch]
  • Materials science is the new black: 3D and 4D printing the future [Apparel]
  • Disney and McLaren to fund wearable tech competition for start-ups [The Drum]
  • “Back To The Future” power laces herald quantum wave of shoe tech at Nike [PSFK]
  • The patented Nike shirt that could track your heart rate and blood pressure while you exercise [Quartz]
Blocks Comment technology

YSL Beauté launches Google Glass tutorials in Selfridges, WiFi issues impact experience


Yves Saint Laurent Beauté launched Google Glass make-up tutorials in its consignment at Selfridges department store in London last week. First offered at Bloomingdales in New York in September, these consultations have sparked quite a bit of press excitement. They’ve accordingly been a great way for the brand to pull in new customers, but the execution appears to be a little patchy.

The tutorials need to be booked in advance and take 45 minutes. The experience is similar to any other make-up consultation: the artist applies the beauty products to one half of the face, shows the customer the results in a mirror, and then applies make-up to the other half of the face, all-the-while explaining what they are doing and why.

What makes a Google Glass tutorial enticing is that the device records the entire procedure. After the makeover is completed, customers are sent a video of it via email, including before/after shots and a list of the products used. The video can be played back at any time, serving as a tutorial for how to apply the make-up in the future.

The advantages of this for YSL are plentiful. Aside from growing its email database, it allows the company to gather data on which items are most suited to the customer demographic at Selfridges, and which items receive the most post-consultation attention. It could likely also inform future customised product recommendations.


According to a make-up artist at the Selfridges YSL counter, the service is in demand and customers have been scheduling in appointments. There’s just one problem: the WiFi connection has been playing up, making it difficult and sometimes impossible to email the videos within the promised 20-minute timeframe after a consultation.

It’s a common issue: innovative ideas are challenging to execute, especially when they involve the introduction of new technology. Often, it comes down to difficulties in the technology on-boarding process. The existing systems in place may not be sophisticated enough to carry or support the technology. And without the follow-up video, the Google Glass consultation is no different to any other make-up consultation. And being promised a video within 20 minutes and not receiving it until at least a few hours later can lead to quite an amount of frustration for the consumer.

While this fixture may incentivise customers to book their make-up consultancy at YSL instead of at a different brand in the famous department store this season, it seems likely that the excitement around it will subside. It might prove to be a case of “been there, done that”. Either way, it’s a fun way for shoppers to get their party-face on, and it showcases YSL in a more innovative light than many of its competitors, or indeed that’s been seen before.

Images via

Comment Editor's pick technology

Exclusive interview: Cooper Gill, space and experience designer, Google Glass


Google Glass opened its first physical location in London this summer, an industrial loft space in the newly renovated Granary Building near Kings Cross. Hot on the heels of setups also launched in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, these immersive showrooms are designed as an opportunity for Glass Explorers to first discover the device.

Rather than a cold, clinical encounter, they artfully combine a hands-on look at the technical capability of the product tied to a design-led retail experience. While these are spaces open only as support sites for Explorers at present, they are a subtle demonstration of how the future of fashion and technology could co-exist in a brick and mortar scenario – away from the homogenous consumption experiences each currently present, towards a new model that combines the best of both worlds fit for an ecosystem of products still to be introduced.

We sat down with Cooper Gill, space and experience designer for Glass to talk about what went into the fit in London specifically, the detail attached to both the technical and emotional considerations of such an experience, and where he hopes his input will take the Google Glass brand in the future.

F&M: The new space is beautifully designed, can you talk us through the concept for it?

CG: Thanks! The Glass Explorer Program is new for the UK and experimental in nature. We wanted the space to feel open in both the spatial sense, but also in the conceptual sense. We are looking to Explorers to help us define our brand and invent amazing use cases for Glass and I didn’t want to lead them on too much with really traditional ‘retail-y’ design, laden with specific imagery depicting use cases; think guys riding bikes and doctors performing surgery or someone in the midst of some dull task like emailing. That type of imagery is so overused when selling technology and ultimately condescending to the user – it’s as if to say: “Hey you’re not too sharp, here’s what you should be doing with our gadget.” Sad. I’d rather present a selection of materials, forms, and more editorial images that could potentially inspire people, and let them know what makes the left side of the Glass brand’s brain tick.


F&M: What were your key considerations going in for all that it should include?

CG: There was a nice tension of old and new materials within the building thanks to the thoughtful renovation of the Granary Building by Architects Stanton Williams. We also didn’t want to fuss too much with the materiality of the space as our timeline was very fast and budgets were to be considered. That led us to embrace some of the new parts of the space. We focused on simple commodity construction materials like CMU block and readily available plywoods and lumbers for the fixturing.

We truly think that Glass intersects fashion, consumer electronics, ‘wearables’, lifestyle, and culture. With that in mind we had to employ some retail specific design thinking. Our wall hanging mirrors had to be really large and let someone get a feel for the total look of wearing Glass from a fashion and personal aesthetic POV (they also help open the space up a touch), but at the same time we needed to make some affordances for the technical nature of the product and onboarding that needed to happen; so workstations with a degree of privacy became necessary. I mean, who wants to be learning how to use their new device, mouth ajar in awe and have a stranger sitting across from them doing the same thing.


F&M: How did you hope the design would facilitate or enhance the experience for consumers?

CG: This is a conceptual space for us to engage our Explorer community. The design had to be scalable to accommodate different modes of use; product introduction, technical support, parties, launches, etc [Google Glass Basecamp’s inaugural event in London was the relaunch party for Fashion & Mash]. So there is quite a bit of utility and multipurpose in the fixturing and architecture. Crucial to those engagements is making sure people are having fun and feeling comfortable. If our Explorers aren’t comfortable in the initial stage of interacting with Glass where they are trying it on, learning how to use it, meeting other like-minded people, how can we expect them to fully enjoy it and leverage it in their daily life?

F&M: The role of physical versus digital is a well-debated one in retail circles today, how important did you consider the brick and mortar experience to be for the Google Glass brand? Were there any specific online elements you wanted to bring to it?

CG: I think there is an incredible depth of brand narrative you can get via online channels with imagery, video and community. But at the end of the day with a brand and product this new, this futuristic, this unprecedented in ambition, we had no choice but to present it physically in person. Goal #1 is to get people to simply try it on. In 10 seconds the majority of misconceptions are erased.

Second goal (from my POV) is to locate the brand’s taste level and what we stand for as the designers and thinkers who are bringing this product to light. I want people to know that iSalone in Milan [the leading design and furniture fair] and fashion mags interest and inspire us just as much as complex software, mechanical, and electrical engineering problems. There is such an incredible, energetic, scrappy team working on this project across so many disciplines I wanted to celebrate that fact as our parent brand (Google) can cast a giant shadow sometimes. I hope that intention shows through when in the space.


F&M: Are there any specific features you would say are particularly unique to the fact this is a tech store in its most basic sense?

CG: I disagree that it’s strictly a tech space, and it’s definitely not a store. I don’t see the inclusion of batteries and CPUs as a rigid construct of technology anymore. The formula for a technology store is pretty homogenous these days; we cannot keep doing the same thing as the products are evolving. The beauty of fashion is that it reinvents itself season after season, [but] the model of replicating 1000+ doors as fast as possible says basically nothing other than you have the money to do it.

As the space where fashion and technology intersect becomes a dominant category over the next few years, it will be interesting to see who presents the most successful iteration and counterpoint to the current model. In regards to our space I think the subtle bit of whimsy in the fixturing, curation of contract furniture and lighting, along with a refined colour palette used in severe moderation set a different tone for our brand and what we hope to grow into.

F&M: What are you most proud of with it?

CG: The recognition you are providing with this interview is pretty awesome. Our team went hard for a few weeks straight and put in tons of overtime to get the space ready in time for our UK launch.


F&M: What little details do you consider really important that others may not notice?

CG: I love the mixture of commodity products we refinished into design items. It’s cool to think the tables can hold 4000lbs each.

F&M: You come from a store design role at Urban Outfitters if I’m right, what did you bring to this experience from there?

CG: I started my career at UO, correct. I was fortunate to be mentored by some amazing people there who really helped me understand the value of inventiveness, exploration of materials, and a DIY attitude. UO is like creative boot camp, I think any young designer who is fortunate to do a stint there is better for it.

F&M: Are there similarities in designing a physical space between an apparel retailer and a wearable technology one?

CG: Our wearable is a little different than say the current crop of watches or clip-on sensors. We are much more in line with an apparel or eyewear retailer, in the sense we have to make room and consideration for that emotional decision making process. Conversely we do have an incredibly technical story to tell as well as a few narratives surrounding use case. So we have to design in capacity for all of those things for today as well as the ability to change for tomorrow.


F&M: The location of this Basecamp in London is quite unique too, can you talk us through that?

CG: It’s funny, the first time I went to the site with our real estate broker was an utterly grey rainy early spring morning on a Monday or Tuesday. It was cold and anyone who had any business in the neighbourhood was hiding in doors. Somebody was running late so my broker took me into the adjacent restaurant, Caravan, for a coffee and I was immediately blown away. Why is there amazing coffee here? Why is this pastry so good? Who picked the music? Who are all these kids circa me in art school?! Yes, I’ll have baked eggs. Yes, I’ll have a cocktail (shh!)

We wrapped up our extended ‘breakfast meeting’ and walked back through the University of Arts London, and my mind was made up basically before I even saw the space. The energy that was hiding inside the University and Caravan was a necessary component that few high street locations can provide. I usually dislike overly planned developments, but Kings Cross is apparently being done right (I say this as an outsider and non-resident of London). The history is being preserved, the bustle is being returned, and no dreadful themes are being put into place.

F&M: Where are you planning to launch next and what can we look forward to?

CG: I’m very excited about the future, [but] you’ll have to stay tuned.


digital snippets e-commerce mobile social media

Digital snippets: Burberry, Levi’s, Nordstrom, adidas, Gap, Apple, CFDA, Bonobos

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech:


  • Burberry credits 9% revenue hike on strong online sales and ‘more targeted marketing’ [Marketing]
  • Levi’s launches $96m global campaign centred on user-generated content [The Drum]
  • Nordstrom is bringing Wanelo into 100+ of its stores [Glamour]
  • Inside adidas’ social media team at the World Cup in Rio [AdAge]
  • Gap’s former social chief: retail has shiny-new-object syndrome [DigiDay]
  • Might Apple have a future as a fashion conglomerate? [CNET]
  • CDFA embraces shoppable video technology to boost engagement [Luxury Daily]
  • Bonobos raises $55 million to expand its bricks-and-mortar locations [Internet Retailer]
  • In a sea of go-girl advertising, P&G’s ‘Like a Girl’ hits hardest [AdAge]
  • The science of shopping: digital innovations shaping the future of retail [The Guardian]
  • “Buy Now” buttons start appearing in tweets. Is Twitter shopping finally here? [Re/code]
  • Stores still critical to wooing men, but leaders re-wiring for digital age [BoF]
  • How top style bloggers are earning $1 million a year [Co.Design]
  • Is Instagram killing personal style blogs? [Fashionista]
  • Here’s the first-ever Google Glass hair tutorial [The Cut]
  • In Japan, Urban Research experiments with virtual changing booths [BoF]