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AUGMENTED REALITY IN FASHION

Technological advancements in augmented reality (AR) brings products closer to the consumer. In this post, we dicuss current and possible applications of augmented reality in the fashion industry, and consider the pros, as well as a fashion future devoid of physical interaction.

Key Takeaways

  • Virtual try-on experiences have taken the fashion and beauty space by storm.
  • Applications of augmented reality include lenses, mirrors, window displays, and runway experiences.
  • Data privacy and security remains an issue in widely adopting AR.

 

Background

Augmented reality is an interactive experience where virtual information and objects are projected onto natural environments. In this environment, the computer-generated images are enhanced. These images are usually touchable. In some cases, they might not be interactive.

Shiseido AR Makeup Mirror

Augmented reality has made its way into the fashion and beauty space in the last couple of years.  In 2017, Japanese company Shiseido released a smart mirror that allowed consumers apply and remove makeup virtually before purchasing. This allowed customers to try on shades they would not necessarily try on. Furthermore, it did not require the lengthy time a real application would take. Soon enough brands like L’Oreal followed suit with its Modiface simulation for makeup, hair and skin care.

Gucci AR Shoes

Similarly, Converse had their customers in mind with their augmented reality app made especially for the physical shopping averse. By pointing the phone at their legs, customers can make orders directly through the app without going to stores. Gucci has one too.

Augmented Reality and Fashion

Valentino Instagram Filter

Fashion lovers have taken to augmented reality for uses ranging from try-on shopping to fun filters on Instagram stories. Fashion brands are utilizing the potential of AR through lenses, virtual try-ons, AR runway shows, AR mirrors and embedded experiences. Augmented reality will change online shopping. Brands and retailers will opt to enhance their customers’ shopping experiences. Consequently, AR will drive conversion by offering consumers an immersive, wholly personalised experience.

 

 

Augmented reality runway experiences may become popular as a reaction to the post-Covid-19 normal. Runway shows are usually expensive to produce. Companies would also see this as a good way of reducing the carbon footprint of their shows, usually held in exotic locations.  AR runway experiences adhere to social distancing rules and allow more access to fashion shows. Brands can recreate runway looks on holographic or AR models, as they walk around countless living rooms, in different locations.

 

This idea was explored at London Fashion Week 2020 as a 3D rendition of Adwoa Aboah strutting the runway. The 3D imagery was a collaboration between Central Saint Martins and the internet service provider Three. 

With the advancement in smartphones and other technologies, AR is now embedded into almost every new device with a camera. Apple’s ARKit aids independent developers to create AR apps for iPhones, so does Google’s Tango mobile and Facebook’s AR studio. As the level of accessibility increases so will its use-cases and adoption across industries.

 

The Case For and Against Augmented Reality

Augmented reality brings products closer to the consumer in various ways – for one, it removes the uncertainty of wrong sizing from decision making. Importantly, the layered data on top of having a physical store to visit enables the shopper to buy with confidence. Brands can also incorporate interactive visual experiences into packaging, for example styling as well as practical applications of products. Similarly, the in-store retail experience can have new depth through interesting visuals.

 

Dior AR sunglasses

Perhaps the downsides to AR are that it can become addictive since it offers a greater level of immersion than regular apps. This could cause human connections in fashion to deteriorate. Furthermore, augmented reality could be unsafe if users are too engrossed in their devices and are not aware of traffic and other hazards as they walk.  Just as important is the security of data we share.

To use AR apps, we have to share vast amounts of data about ourselves such as biometric data and facial recognition. Filters on Snapchat and Instagram collect data on facial expressions, speech data, retina patterns, used for identification.

 

Where We Stand

These examples are just a small sampling of the potential AR can deliver. Businesses across industries are already incorporating AR into their service offering from interiors to art.  AR can create more meaningful and longer-lasting connections with customers by providing them with tailored services or products. We believe this is something that will be indispensable for fashion brands to gain competitive advantage in the future.

We at U.Mi-1 value the necessity of technological advancement in fashion. However, with recent lockdowns globally, we realize how much human beings cherish human interaction amidst the convenience of digital experiences. On one’s trip to a store, from the moment you leave your home, you are in contact with people. A good retail store is designed to tantalise your senses: colours, particular smell, music and the textures of the garments or products. This cannot be replicated at your home or with AR. For us, the best thing about running our pop-up stores is the interaction with our customers. We genuinely want to connect with them as well as see how much they love our clothing. After all, U.Mi-1 is about dialogue. So as much as we marvel at augmented reality, we believe it better supplements than replaces physical human experiences.

 

Conclusion

The world due to Covid-19 makes a strong case to redefine the way we shop and what we deem as ‘real’ fashion experiences. We believe that consumers will naturally gravitate towards fashion augmented reality the same way it happened with online shopping. In this case, brands will have to create specific valuable experiences to drive consumers into their bricks and motar stores.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook predicts that AR will be as big as the iPhone. For the fashion industry and apparel brands, augmented reality is a tool that can revolutionize how customers interact with products. Virtual try-ons and seamless shopping experiences key into consumers’ need to try products before buying. The fashion brands that position themselves accordingly with this technological development will set themselves up nicely for the future. However, human interactions should not be forgotten.

 

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