Virtual Retail in 2021: How Brands Used VR to Promote Their Products

2021 was a big year for retailers; bouncing back from a long-standing pandemic, they started adopting new ways to reach their target audiences, using virtual retail reality to create a more approachable brand, using immersive online experiences. 

 We’ve collected some of the best here to laud their achievements and celebrate the progression of VR in the fashion industry. 

1. Nike’s All Conditions Gear

The latest in Nike’s ACG collection received a VR tour showcasing the brand’s newest apparel in an innovative and exciting setup that visitors can view through VR glasses. 

Their outdoor gear collection is showcased in an alpine environment defined by snow and rock with clothes and shoes artfully spaced out on boulders and models to create a winding path for the visitor to follow as they explore the collection wholly unique and creative way. 

Nike's All Conditions Gear - Emperia

2. Dior’s Designer of Dreams

Sophistication and class was Dior’s goal when they designed and debuted their virtual tour ‘Designer of Dreams’. 

The exhibition celebrates 70 years of fashion achievements, taking users through all the glory of Dior’s products in the ultimate immersive experience. The tour combines a special behind the scenes look at how the exhibition was put together and showcased the rooms themselves. This in-depth look enhances the Dior experience for their customer base and is filled with a unique sense of style sure to stick in the visitor’s memory. 

Dior's Designer of Dreams - Emperia

3. Chanel Lipscanner

Chanel is a prominent forerunner in using AR technology to innovate the user experience and increase engagement with its brand. 

One of their most significant AR projects was an introduction of an application that would allow users to see what any one of their hundreds of lip products would look like on them in a virtual capacity. Visitors have a broad range of selections available to them and can take a picture of any colour so that the app can find a corresponding colour match. This takes trying on lipstick and lip gloss to a whole new interactive level, revitalising their products and making them more inviting and creative. 

Chanel Lip Scanner - Emperia

4. JD and Nike Air VapourMax Try-On

2021 was a big year for Nike in both AR and VR. They partnered up with JD to release an exclusive AR Try-On app with TikTok. 

TikTok users can use the feature to see what their feet look like in digital representations of the shoe, select from three different colours, add variety and creativity to the experience, and introduce a whole new form of innovation to the social media site. 

The campaign came with a hashtag challenge to get users more involved and engaged. Anyone using the hashtag had a chance of winning a year’s supply of shoes, increasing incentive and making the whole virtual experience that much more exciting. 

Nike - Emperia

5. Hotter Shoes AR Experience

Continuing with trying on virtual shoes, Hotter Shoes capitalised on the growing trend and interest in virtual retail by introducing their own AR Try-On experience. 

Customers can use their smartphones to try on Hotter’s shoes before buying them digitally. This helps the company keep up with the trend of more customers moving online for their shopping and allows them to present a more innovative experience for their visitors, priding themselves especially on being the first shoe retailer aimed at older women to use AR technology.

AR experience

6. Gap’s Drapr Acquisition

Renowned fashion retailer, Gap, has also joined in on the virtual fun by revealing their buying of revolutionary virtual try-on company Drapr. 

Gap and Drapr will work together to provide customers with a new and exciting way to try on clothes virtually and find the right size and fit in an easy to manage sophisticated and stylish set-up. The experience is exclusive and unique to each customer, helping them find the perfect clothes that suit them beyond what the typical size number may say, crafting a tailored process that puts the customer front and centre. 

Virtual Retail Emperia

7. Gucci-Roblox Partnership

In May, Gucci partnered with Roblox to create a captivating virtual experience that showcased one of their state-of-the-art bags. 

Customers would enter Roblox’s virtual landscape to experience the virtual Gucci Garden Exhibition. For one hour, an exclusive digital product, the Dionysus Bag with Bee, was on display that sold for high prices in the digital world, suddenly acquiring more worth than its physical counterpart. 

This showcases the level of immersion Gucci, and Roblox manufactured for their visitors, providing them with a once-in-a-lifetime experience that certainly left a marked impression on them, elevating the experience to a whole new level of engagement. 

Virtual Retail Roblox

8. Burberry’s Virtual Tokyo Store

Burberry is perhaps one of the most prolific fashion giants leading the VR renaissance in the fashion industry with numerous projects in 2021, like their Pocket Bag experience and AR app that lets you design your sculpture. 

However, one of their most significant virtual ventures was transforming their flagship Tokyo shop into a perfect digital replica. It was open for a month between March and April for customers to browse to their heart’s content and buy anything from Burberry’s spring/summer 2021 collection. 

This brought a whole new level of innovation to virtual fashion retail, creating an authentic and lifelike experience. A piece of the world was brought to people all over the globe who would never have a chance to visit the Tokyo store, allowing them to engage with and immerse themselves in Burberry’s world. 

Virtual Retail Burberry

9. Dior Beauty’s Atelier of Dreams

We conclude the list with luxury royalty Dior Beauty’s enchanting virtual shopping experience. The team at Emperia designed and delivered a truly unforgettable experience for their holiday collection launch. Dior Beauty displayed the new collection in purple, on-brand dreamland that blew away any shopper. The Atelier of Dreams also featured a Dior Garden for private appointments and VIP access. This allowed shoppers to feel genuinely exclusive to the brand and experience something they couldn’t get anywhere else. 

Virtual Retail Dior Beauty

Fashion is one of the most advanced industries, adopting more and more creative solutions. The inherent imagination in fashion retail has paved the way for VR to become the crown jewel of shopping in the future. More and more brands are creating exclusive virtual experiences for their customers, putting them front and centre, and they’re only getting more inspiring and interactive as the days go on. 

With all the technological progression made in 2021, it’s anyone’s guess what virtual marvels are in store for fashion retail in 2022.

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