- Augmented Reality
- Augmented Reality
Sci-fi writers envisioned a future in which technology would change the reality around us. It seems like that future is now, case in point: augmented reality. In a nutshell, AR is about adding digital elements to physical reality using an edge device (which can be something as common as a smartphone or a tablet, or something more specialized, like AR glasses).
But AR is not only about changing reality; it’s about making our lives easier and better. True, fashion was not the first industry to implement AR. But since the first attempts to bring augmented reality into fashion, cool new features and possibilities have won over the hearts of tech-savvy consumers everywhere.
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Due to the global pandemic, 2020 has become the year of online shopping. This brought to light a huge issue that cost a whopping $550 billion in the US alone: buyers return clothes that don’t fit or don’t look like they expected. In addition to the financial effect, the disappointment of customer expectations has a significant negative impact on brand image, as it reduces customer loyalty. That can be a death sentence for any business struggling to survive in a competitive – and COVID-impacted – market.
Brands that invested in augmented reality, however, anticipated and met the needs of consumers. AR helps potential customers visualize themselves wearing new clothes, shoes, accessories, and make-up. The technology also gives them access to previously limited content such as runway shows, and makes shopping so much easier. The world of fashion can now be transported into every living room, and customers can make informed purchasing decisions without leaving their couch.
Every year, more fashion and beauty brands introduce AR as part of their marketing strategies. The general manager of Snapchat, Kathryn Carter, stated that fashion and AR are natural partners. The benefits of AR include informing customers, entertaining them, and creating unforgettable shopping experiences. Let’s take a look at why fashion brands and augmented reality are such a great fit.
Arguably one of the most popular uses of augmented reality in fashion, the try-it-on concept started from addressing the primary difference between online shopping and brick-and-mortar stores. When buying on the Internet, you could not really see how the new shirt would look on you, or what shade of lipstick would suit you better. That’s not the case anymore. With try-before-you-buy AR technology, fashion and beauty brands neutralize this difference.
Look at the famous examples of Sephora and ModiFace. Both offered the unique experience of trying on different make-up products using a cell phone camera. For Sephora, this resulted in 45 million hits in the first eight weeks. As a result of that impressive success, the popularity of the try-it-on approach skyrocketed. It was appropriated not only by beauty brands but by a variety of others, including prescription glasses (Warby Parker); sunglasses (Dior); nail products (Wanna Nails); hats (Tenth Street Hats); watches (AR-Watches); jewelry (CaratLane and Diamond Hedge); shoes (Wanna Kicks); and others. Large social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook introduced an array of filters. This allows users to modify their faces, share the photos with friends, and turn fashion shopping into a content platform in its own right.
Gamification is another popular trend for many fashion brands, especially those targeting younger audiences. 3D animations and games entertain customers and promote an emotional link to the brand. Nike created SNKRStash, to allow customers to look for hidden locations via hints in their augmented reality fashion app. At these locations, customers gain access to exclusive, limited edition shoes. Puma’s LQD Cell Origin Air sneaker is covered in QR-codes that provide access to cool effects and filters that turn shopping into a game.
Another way of giving a customer a better look? Creating a virtual fitting room. These often feature the ability to add products of interest, and a virtual mannequin to see how the clothes and accessories would look on a human body. One of the largest adopters of this technology is Amazon. The company’s augmented reality fashion app allows customers to see how the clothes would look on a mannequin before purchase. GAP has gone one step further: when shopping for their items, you can modify the body type, and see the clothes from different angles.
Augmented reality of virtual fitting rooms doesn’t stop there. The choice of complimenting items with the possibility of close-up examination is a nice touch, as is information about the chosen clothes, and a video feed of models wearing them. Perhaps the greatest advantage of virtual fitting rooms is that the user can access them from home, finding the products in familiar and comfortable surroundings. Include price tags and buttons to add items to a virtual shopping cart, and you’ve created a fluid shopping experience without losing the interest of the customer.
Online retailers are not the only ones upping their AR shopping game. Brick-and-mortar stores are in the mix as well. AR has taken its place at the heart of various fashion brands to deliver unique immersive experiences for their customers. Zara showcases new collections by featuring runway models at its flagship store and by adding virtual pop-up models at shop locations. Louis Vuitton created an AR merchandising project for display windows that breaks the fourth wall and demonstrates enormous potential for enticing customers.
The successful collaboration of Chanel and FarFetch brought to life their luxurious fitting rooms at “Store of the Future” to create the unique customer journey. The process begins with separate items or ready-to-wear looks found in the app. After booking an appointment, the customer arrives at the prepared fitting room equipped with the chosen items and something we should be referring to as a “magic mirror.” This piece of AR technology offers the buyer information on available collections, shows different angles, and recommends new items and accessories with references to runway shows.
Clearly, fashion brands and augmented reality fit together quite nicely. Problems arise, however, not from a lack of interest, but from insufficient technological advancement in the area. App interfaces are not always user-friendly enough. State-of-the-art augmented reality projects are costly because they must be tailored to existing customer needs and business demands. Security issues cannot be ignored either: not every customer can trust a mirror that seems to spy on them.
Known and upcoming issues should be addressed by professionals. We at Postindustria combine innovation with solid, dependable results. We develop and tailor AR technology to fit specific goals. Augmented reality fashion is about helping people shop, entertaining them, and increasing their satisfaction while they’re in the comfort of their own homes, using just a smartphone. And we believe that, for those in the fashion industry, augmented reality is the fashion-forward choice.