Fashion retail has gained a permanent digital upgrade. Helsinki Fashion Week went digital last year, while Gucci is experimenting with 3D clothing, prompting shoppers to splurge on pieces that exist exclusively online.
With virtual and augmented reality solving problems in the industry around sustainability, accessibility and brand identity, it’s hardly surprising that some of the most reputable brands in fashion are welcoming the e-commerce shift and embracing VR.
We shine a spotlight on some of the brands employing virtual or augmented reality and making progressive waves in the fashion industry.
Gucci’s adoption of digital technology isn’t a particularly new development; their 2018 spring campaign consisted of interactive window displays featuring scannable stickers by which a catalog of artwork and Gucci products could be accessed and, at 52 selected stores, tickets for accessing a VR art installation by Spanish artist and muse for the campaign, Ignasi Monreal.
Yet, more recently, the Italian powerhouse’s creative director Alessandro Michele designed the Gucci Virtual 25 – a striking pair of neon high-top sneakers that can only be worn for photos, using augmented reality. When purchased within the Gucci app, the sneakers are also available to download as an in-game clothing add-on for users’ avatars in the online game Roblox, as well as on the online social platform, VRChat.
Digital fashion brand Auroboros will be the first to have its strictly digital collection shown virtually at London Fashion Week this year via its DiscoveryLAB platform for new brands. It comes as a breakthrough as it promises a world in which 3D fashion collections can exist in the same physical spaces as traditional fashion.
The digitally styled pieces are custom made – after making a purchase on the website, customers will then submit a photograph so that the outfit can be tailored to their body. Auroboros’ inspiration stems from nature as well as the sci-fi world, namely Ex Machina and Avatar.
Founders Paula Sello and Alissa Aulbekova have successfully married science technology with physical haute couture to produce an otherworldly collection that breaks through the mainstream and contributes to the discussion around sustainability.
Zara’s recent campaign back in April saw digital models come to life in empty shop windows, swapping mannequins for a more customised shopping experience. Shoppers were able to use the app to activate digital projections of the models in the shop windows of selected physical stores using the Zara AR app for iOS and Android.
An extra special addition was the ability to view miniature holograms of models Léa Julian and Fran Summers wearing their purchases simply by hovering their phone over a package in store. Zara didn’t compromise on accessibility, making the new app downloadable via the website and QR codes, and providing dedicated wi-fi networks in stores.
This interestingly places the high street retailer at the forefront of fashion technology; exposing it to audiences who aren’t otherwise tuned in to that world.
The beauty sector has known virtual reality technology for some time, but Chanel’s Lipscanner takes beauty AR to the next level by being able to match any shade from any image taken with a smartphone to one from their library of over 400 lip shades.
It takes into account the user’s skin tone, age, and lip shape to produce a simulation of the most accurate desired lipstick colour and texture.
The app is available to download via the Apple Store for iOS devices, and offers a way to instill more confidence in the product and how it will look, before buying. Others have experimented with virtual try-ons – with sales conversion rates increasing dramatically, by 94% – but its ultra precision and speed (courtesy of Chanel’s Makeup Creation Studio and CX Lab) is what makes this app truly impressive.
A venture that has been in the works since 2017, innovative luxury brand Farfetch are blending offline and online experiences to provide a futuristic retail experience, featuring interactive mirrors that allow customers to request items in different colours and sizes without leaving the fitting room, a virtual in-app clothing rack to record items as customers pick them up, as well as holographic displays for selecting items to try on.
By using unique customer data and understanding that the majority of luxury purchases (70%) are influenced by online, Farfetch is on its own mission to improve the customer experience and merge digital with IRL.
If Retail has learned anything from the recent Covid-19 ordeal is that e-commerce is due to a dramatic change. Consumers are demanding a more coherent experience, with a clear need for a more immersive, personalised, and life-like experience, when using brands’ online properties. If VR technology has been in an experimental phase, up until 2020, retailers and leading brands are now incorporating the latest technology into their shopping experience, ensuring more trust and less friction, when moving between the physical and virtual worlds, while leveraging the added value and capabilities only technology can offer.
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