December 22, 2020
How Augmented Reality is the Perfect Fit for Fashion
Is immersive the most in vogue technology for the fashion industry? From the high street to online and luxury brands, augmented reality is a technology that can help brands to make a fashion statement, stand out from the crowd and connect with customers in new and exciting ways. What’s more, it has the potential to create new and sustainable revenue streams.
Augmented reality (AR) allows digital content to overlay the real world. With the introduction of software such as ARKit and ARCore and also improved AR functionality of social media apps such as Snapchat and TikTok, branded immersive content has become increasingly realistic and affordable to produce. This, coupled with the fact that AR is easily accessible via widely owned mobile devices, means that it is an ideal innovation for the fashion sector to meet key industry challenges such as digitalisation, consumer demand and sustainability.
Five Examples of AR Being Used in Fashion Today
- VIRTUAL DRESSING ROOM: The major downside of online shopping is the guesswork needed to assess whether items viewed online will fit well and be flattering, not to mention the hassle of organising items to be returned if they disappoint on delivery. Augmented reality offers fashion retailers a way of addressing this, as an innovative sales tool that allows potential customers to try before they buy. Apps from traditional high street names and online brands, such as Gap’s Virtual dressing room, and Asos’s See My Fit app give online customers the chance to make informed decisions before purchasing by viewing AR versions of clothing on avatars that reflect their own body shapes. Luxury brands are also experimenting with AR; for example, Dior gives potential buyers the chance to virtually try on DiorSoLight sunglasses by overlaying them onto images of users’ own faces by using a bespoke Instagram filter.
- IN-STORE EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING: Augmented reality isn’t just supporting home and online fashion purchases, it is also making an impact in stores too, by enhancing the customer experience through visually engaging content. Zara’s AR experience was a two-week experience rolled out across 120 stores to give customers the chance to ‘shop the look’ by holding their phones up to the window and in-store displays. This then unlocked specific clothing ranges by bringing digital models to life, allowing customers to purchase seamlessly via their phones. Other brands are using AR to create stunning marketing content that connects with customers in situ, as well as being shared online virally. Nike and Footlocker’s LeBron James AR poster campaign did just that by using Snapchat’s AR marker technology to bring a 2D poster of Lebron James to life, morphing into a 3D digital model slam-dunking into the store. The results were stunning; customers in-store were wowed by astonishing creative content, as well as reaching a global audience of over 1.25 million views within an hour of launching through social media sharing.
- BUILDING BRAND LOYALTY: In the social media age, making audiences feel an integral part of your brand is crucial for developing brand loyalty and boosting sales. Augmented reality can help fashion brands to do this, and democratise fashion experiences by allowing bigger audiences to get closer to the action. Balmain’s Behind the Scenes app uses AR to blend the lines between fashion and entertainment by embracing digital storytelling, giving their audience an immersive behind the scenes experience, as well as a front row seat to its catwalk shows.
- VIRTUAL CATWALKS: Pioneering fashion brands are increasingly recognising the potential of augmented reality to create truly unique and memorable catwalk experiences. During London Fashion Week in 2018, designer Steven Tai teamed up with the Fashion Innovation Agency (FIA) and ILMxLAB to treat the catwalk audience to a visually stunning live AR experience. During the two hour fashion show the venue, London’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Durbar Court, was gradually overlaid with the streets of Macau, Steven Tai’s home. A virtual model in digitised clothing also appeared on the runway side by side with real life models.
- VIRTUAL CLOTHING RANGES: There are also fashion brands who aren’t just using augmented reality as a tool for connecting with potential customers; they are creating groundbreaking digital clothing to open up new revenue streams. Social media is fuelling throwaway fashion, and by extension, to the fashion industry’s growing levels of pollution and environmental damage. As many consumers are buying clothing to wear just once to create images for their social media feeds, environmentally conscious fashion brands, such as Carlings, are blazing a trail for AR digital garments. It has created affordable, but limited AR designer garments, that can be tailored to fit each individual customer’s digital image. In doing this, Carling’s digital collections are directly addressing sustainability issues, whilst providing customers with unique clothing at the fraction of the cost of physical pieces. AR fashion means that everyone benefits; it’s better for the environment, allows brands to innovate and diversify their product ranges, and means that online fashionistas can become truly fashion forward in affordable, but limited edition designer clothing.
The Future of AR in Fashion
Although there are fashion brands who are experimenting with augmented reality, the industry overall has been slow to adopt immersive technologies. But as consumer behaviours continue to change, augmented reality will become an increasingly attractive prospect for fashion brands to present, promote and sell products.
The key to adoption is advances in technology. Fashion is an industry driven by visual and sensory excellence – and this needs to be reflected in any immersive experience. The 5G rollout will mean that high quality AR content will become more easily accessible, and crucially, more realistic. The launch of LIDAR on the iPhone 12 also points to the future potential for customers to use bodyscanning technology to create digital twins; gamechanging for virtual dressing rooms by offering a completely bespoke individual experience. These advances truly give us a peek into the potential impact of blurring the real and digital worlds on a widespread scale – both today, as well as in the not too distant future.
Interested in finding out more about how you could embed augmented reality into your business? Contact the Future Visual team today for a demo.