Google is working with Luxottica to bring its brand of fashion to the Google Glass wearable display. On Monday, Google announced the partnership with the Italian eyeglass frame-maker, which owns the Ray-Ban and Oakley sunglasses lines, because Luxottica “understands how to build, distribute and sell great products.”
The deal is important not only because it brings potential mainstream fashion to Google Glass but also because it provides a retail distribution channel with several established brands.
That means when Glass becomes available to the general public, consumers won’t necessarily have to order and receive Glass from Google. In the announcement on Google+, Google specifically says “Luxottica’s retail and wholesale distribution channels will serve us well when we make Glass available to more people. Currently, Glass is available through an invite-style beta program that costs $1,500 and requires direct fulfillment through Google.
The original version of Glass wasn’t what anyone I know would call fashionable: The wearable computer was fitted to a horizontal titanium band. Aside from being a more than a bit geeky to look at, Glass was difficult to wear with prescription glasses. In January, Google introduced a set of four Glass frames to solve both challenges, requiring another $225 investment. I took the plunge for those, ordering the Bold frames and later fitting them with prescription lenses and the result is much more mainstream by comparison.
Still, there’s no doubt I’m wearing Google Glass. I suspect that’s where Luxottica comes into play. With its expertise and the design language already used by Oakley and Ray-Ban, the company can integrate Glass into an even more appealing form that can improve appeal.
It’s worth noting that this particular development isn’t the most recent merger of technology, fashion and retail. Apple recently poached Angela Ahrendts from Burburry, where she was held the CEO spot. Apple tapped Ahrendts to be the company’s head of retail, but don’t count out her sense of fashion, not to mention her experience running a company with plenty of style.