1. Google Glass is an outgrowth of the mobile phone and operates within the frame of technology, that is, prosthesis. It extends knowledge, shrinks distances and time. Each new technology takes a while to arrive at a point where it’s actually useful, but from the start the language is one of function; the aesthetic functional.
2. Fashion, by contrast, starts from a point of excess. We don’t need fashion, that’s the whole point. It’s pleasure, it’s playfulness, it’s pointless but rather fun. Its very distance from function is how it sets itself apart as fashion, not just clothes – unwalkable shoes, unwashable leather t-shirts, embellished skirts too ornate ever to sit down in.
3. Where fashion is functional it is, I think, no longer fashion.
(Christian Louboutin: “I HATE the whole concept of comfort.”)
Function – or the ideology of functionalism, at least – focuses on the material properties of things. Yet fashion is utterly symbolic: the garment only matters as a set of aesthetic, historic or cultural references, as meaning, as a fantasy, a gesture. Even worn on the body it’s about the imaginary of who I could be today.
3a. Spectacles as a category are too functional – they can be design statements, absolutely, but no-one treats them frivolously enough for them to be fashion. Sunglasses, on the other hand…
4. Fashion engaged with technology in the late 60s, with sci-fi Paco Rabanne futurism and clothes made out of wonderful new synthetics as costumes for a future life on the moon (or the Barbarella filmset). It came back to technology again some point in the late-ish 90s, through sportswear and trousers with a lot of complicated pockets that made rustling noises as you walked. [I don't understand this moment so well.]
4a. Fashion is very engaged with technology now, but at one degree of remove. There’s a lot of technology involved in materials development, but what these materials mean is a matter of difference, or discernment, or a designer being able to create a particular aesthetic – they aren’t interesting for the technology per se. Social media and the internet are revolutionising fashion marketing, fashion distribution, image research, visual stimulus and fashion design – but no-one is making dresses about this directly. (That would be too crude.) Fashion’s energy is more abstract: the pace of change.
5. Technology can be a style marker – the Macbook Pro – and can be aestheticised as street style: I’m thinking Japanese schoolgirl mobile phone accessories. Style as opposed to fashion – style is broader, it’s design, it’s taste, it’s a kind of social communication with the visual materials you’ve got. Whereas fashion is despotic, it speaks only of and to itself.
Ten years down the line when there are 500 different styles of face-mounted display screen and its varied forms aren’t trying to claim any relationship to function – then Google Glass may have a chance to be something about fashion. Or when the technology’s reverse-mounted into vintage sunglass frames. Or maybe fashion is parasitic on other sets of referents: maybe Google Glass will only be able to be fashion when to wear a pair is to be making a visual reference to sci-fi movies of the 1980s, or Taiwanese street style blogs, or a glimmer of a 2014 revival in the pre-fall collections of 2023 — that is, when wearing a pair of Google Glasses ceases to be mostly about “Oh my god I’m wearing a pair of Google Glasses”.
But now(ish), when to wear a pair is to proclaim that “I’m really into being a new adopter of technology”, or “I would like to think I am living in the future” – currently these statements cannot be parsed within the language of fashion, they are irrelevant to it. Google Glass maybe the future of interactive communications, but fashion simply shrugs.