01 Dec 2014

Creating the Shopping Experience of the Future

Ivy Ross (PMD 68, 1994), Head, Google Glass
Re: Jenn Hyman (MBA 2009); Jenny Carter Fleiss (MBA 2009)
by Christine Lejeune


Ivy Ross uses the word “magic” more than once as she describes the changes that Google Glass could bring to the shopping experience. The woman in charge of Glass’s consumer launch is brainstorming potential uses for the $1,500 wearable web device, which could provide new layers of information for both the shopper and the retailer. For example, a glance at a garment could be augmented with information on the designer, recommendations for matching accessories in the store, or suggestions from the wearer’s own closet. A salesperson could check inventory and answer a shopper’s question instantly.

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Rent the Runway, from Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss (both MBA 2009), brings the sharing economy to the world of fashion, offering big-name dresses—and now accessories—for short-term rental online or in their new stores.

“Or, say, I’m shopping and I want my daughter’s opinion. I call her up, and she can see through my eyes what I’m seeing,” says Ross. “The uses are endless. It’s really as creative as you are. Where Glass becomes magical is when you get to see things in a new way.”

But first, Ross—a successful artist and jewelry designer, superstar product developer and marketer, and self-proclaimed “child of curiosity”—has to sell Glass itself to a public that still seems uncertain about both its logistics and its usefulness. Google Glass has the lofty goal of “enhancing humanity with technology,” but Ross, who has worked with Swatch, Gap Inc., and Coach, among others, is focused on the style angle. Glass is, she says, “fashionable eyewear with integrated technology.” How fashionable? Diane von Furstenberg and Oakley are designing partners.

Those fashionable frames are more evidence that fashion and tech aren’t either/or anymore. “These days,” Ross says, “it’s and/both.”

Next: Imran Amed (MBA 2002) — Rethinking the Fashion Beat »

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