Google Brings Us Back into Fashion Like Never Before
Some may have heard of Google’s “20 percent time,” a commitment allowing their engineers to spend 20 percent of their time on personal projects that they believe will benefit the company in the long run. Back in 2010, Amit Sood, an engineer from Bombay, used this “20 percent time” to launch the Google Art Project, an initiative to digitize the world’s museums. Sood’s then mammoth dream has steadily become a reality known today as the Google Cultural Institute. This non-profit branch of the company has partnered with over 1,300 museums and foundations to bring the world’s art resources alive on a digital platform called Google Arts & Culture.
Google, of course, couldn’t ignore the historical and artistic impact of fashion culture, and this is exactly where the Institute is setting its sights next.
Google’s new virtual experience project, “We Wear Culture: The Stories Behind What We Wear” is the fashion leg of the never-ending journey of cataloging and digitizing the colorful world of art forms we know. The new leg of the site is a collaboration with over 180 partner companies and institutions in 42 countries, together contributing a total of 30,000 artifacts, including four VR experiences and 6 Google expeditions.
Sood, who is now the director of Google Arts and Culture, claims “what you wear is true culture and more often than not a piece of art.”
The site is a dizzying mass of information, with extensive profiles of renowned designers such as Coco Chanel and Cristóbal Balenciaga to fashion icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Frida Kahlo. It is the encyclopedia of encyclopedias on any and every fashion-related individual, every style and trend, and the cultural and historical significance behind each one.
Project leader Kate Lauterbach sums up the purpose of the initiative clearly: “We wanted to show that fashion is much deeper than just what you wear; that there’s a story behind it, there’s people behind it, there’s influences that come from art, that come from music, that come from culture more broadly; and in turn, what we wear influences culture. We really wanted to put fashion on a par with art and artists. You look at their influences, you look at their inspiration, you look at their process, you look at their influences.”
Thanks to Google Arts and Culture, it seems fashion lovers will soon have an invaluable resource at their fingertips, one that will both commemorate and teach the history of fashion while also predicting where it may go next.
Visit the beta site for “We Wear Culture: The Stories Behind What We Wear”
Read a detailed interview with project leader Kate Lauterbach by Business of Fashion here.