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Google's "We Wear Culture": 3000 years of world fashion

By Simone Preuss

15 Jun 2017


When Google starts a new project, it usually creates a ripple effect - whether it's e-mail, news, street view and more. Now the California tech giant has embraced the world of fashion with a new platform titled "We Wear Culture" to showcase the best of what the tech world has to offer to create an impressive archive of around 30,000 fashion items that traces the 3,000 years of fashion. In addition, there are about 450 virtual exhibitions on various fashion topics and themes.

The new website - google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/project/fashion - which was launched on Thursday, may still be in its beta version, but that does not affect its functionality. Part database, part virtual exhibition, visitors can browse as if they were in a real museum or a library.

Virtual exhibitions take the visitor deep into the world of fashion, for example into style icon Audrey Hepburn's wardrobe and life, compiled in text, pictures and videos. Or how about other trendsetters and designers like Cristobal Balenciaga, Marilyn Monroe, Salvatore Ferragamo or Coco Chanel?

Google's "We Wear Culture" is archive, documentary and exhibition space

It is even possible to delve further into selected fashion creations and view them from all sides, for example a richly embroidered bodice from the era of Queen Elizabeth I, c. 1600. Or, for a little more contemporary fare, Ferragamo's "Marilyn Monroe" stiletto or Coco Chanel's black dress. 360 degree videos make it possible.

Those who are more interested in background stories will also find interesting insights, for example why fashion matters, the true cost of fast fashion or how different countries like Italy, France and the UK have made fashion their business.

Still too broad? Well, the platform also offers features on very specific aspects of the fashion industry, lace-makers in Switzerland for example, or the story of the Indian sari. Or how about learning about the art of making a kimono, the history of the protest t-shirt or South Africa's IsiShweshwe cloth? And then there are always trends - how about having an expert taking on fashion's biggest trends like the hoodie, the Sukajan jacket or the choker?

Of course, Google could not have done this alone. This rich selection is made possible through the collaboration with museums, fashion brands and institutions all over the world. A total of 195 partners have worked on and suported "We Wear Fashion", among them the Met, the Conde Nast Archive, the German Museum, China National Silk Museum, Designmuseum Danmark, London College of Fashion, Seoul Design Foundation, the Australian Fashion Chamber, Mexico's Museo de Arte Popular and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

"We Wear Culture" engages with the stories behind fashion and is part of Google's "Arts and Culture" platform. Also, it is probably one of Google's most accessible projects to date because there is no need to log in anywhere or to download anything; an internet connection is all users need.

Photos: Google "We Wear Culture"