Fashion is material. right? While clothing has always been physical, expression has always been something more. Digital fashion brands are exploring this intersection. Even physical fashion brands are using XR technology to sell their printed clothing. Although some also sell electronic versions of clothing. From virtual clothes to virtual stores, there is a lot to see.
How to introduce a human into a virtual experience
Before we get to full virtual stores, let’s start with physical fashion retailers using XR technology. What’s the worst part about buying clothes? Experience them, right?
We all agree on that? Lines, time and hassle? … It’s just embarrassing, isn’t it? But you want to know what the clothes will look like on you. This is where the XR comes in. But, it turns out it’s still awkward. Or, at least, it could be.
In September, Reactive Reality announced the launch of a physical “smart mirror” for the virtual experience in traditional stores. This may sound familiar to some ARPost readers. The original PICTOFiT launch was one of the most popular articles of the past year. This iteration was interfaced through e-commerce apps and websites. The smart mirror is different.
“We are very proud to launch it on the market,” Co-founder Stefan Hauswesner said: ARPost. “It’s a first, and we hope it will give shoppers even more confidence both online and offline.”
Both projects involve creating an avatar by the user by entering some body measurements. This creates a virtual form without using an image while being more valuable to the user than other solutions.
An avatar can look like a virtual mannequin for a store, but it can also contain the user’s face, hair, and skin tone. The user can even share screenshots of their avatar wearing not-yet-purchased sets in different virtual wallpapers.
“Sometimes they photograph things, send them to friends, ask for advice, so it’s played that way,” Hauswiesner said. “Initially, as a company, we hadn’t set out to do that.”
See also: Making cutting-edge digital fashion an accessible reality
The solution can work with 2D product images, but retailers benefit more from the process if they have 3D assets. This includes AB testing options before the garment is made.
“We have always set out to work with real-world data from retailers. To this day, eight and a half years later, this is our main competitive advantage” Hauswiesner said. “Now, we can dress up models and people in clothes that haven’t been made yet.”
Even earlier models were compact scanners but required the user to be “practically naked”, which not many were comfortable with.
Be your own model
Last year, Walmart acquired Zeekit – a “virtual fitting room platform.” While Hauswiesner and I were talking about the pros and cons of uploading photos of yourself practically naked, Walmart announced the fruits of its Zeekit acquisition. It’s a solution called “Be Your Own Model”.
The process is probably more user-friendly than PICTOFiT as there are no input requirements for measurements – the user doesn’t necessarily need to know their sizes, let alone their inner layers. However, they need to upload a photo of themselves… lightly dressed.
Instead of creating a 3D model, the solution uses machine learning to create a “topographic map” for the user, covered with image-based assets featuring realistic folds, textures, and lighting. This replaces Walmart’s previous generation of at-home clothing previews, which allowed users to choose a representative model from among seventy options.
“These features work together to create a unique experience that is incredibly easy for our customers to use, and will be available in unprecedented size and scale, with more than 270,000 items,” The Walmart New Businesses & Emerging Tech SVP, Sheryl Inoua, said on LinkedIn. “I can only imagine how far Be Your Own Model’s tech-backed features will go.”
Like interactive reality, Walmart hopes to see users share their “Be Your Own Model” experiences on social media, as well as try on clothes that might not be available in the physical location closest to them – entering the “Virtual Store” tool. .
Complete Virtual Stores
So far, we’ve looked at solutions that place physical goods on virtual bodies. But, there are also solutions to bring virtual people to virtual stores. Rather than a relatively simple adaptation of online shopping online, these solutions take advantage of the average person spending more and more time in virtual worlds.
Imperia and Bloomingdale’s
this spring, ARPost Introduce our readers to Emperia. At the time, the focus on an immersive e-commerce solution was shifting from specific, short-term activations to always-on virtual stores. The story remains a touchstone of ongoing interest in changing the ways we encounter brands and merchandise.
Recently, Emperia announced another milestone. The company created an experience for Bloomingdale’s to celebrate the retailer’s 150th anniversary. The virtual store consists of three separate rooms where users browse items remotely by Polo Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, and others.
“We are honored that Bloomingdale’s has chosen to partner with Emperia during a time when the company is celebrating 150 years of celebration, highlighting its historic achievements and contributions to the world of fashion through its unique approach to retail,” Olga Dogadkina, co-founder and CEO of Emperia, said in a joint statement with ARPost.
Activation was not just a 3D catalog. It included items, games, and videos designed specifically to showcase the history of Bloomingdale’s. And when Bloomingdale’s is done celebrating, they can change the set and even the decorations in their virtual store.
“Highlighting their ongoing footprint in the fashion industry, and continuing to push the boundaries of innovation, to be an example of how they use the latest technology that creates a highly engaging and memorable online shopping experience,” Dugadkina said.
In-store and print advertising by Bloomingdale’s has also been enhanced by work by 8th Wall and ROSE. Whether in-store or out of a print catalog, live models showcased shoppers the fashions in their environments through their phones. This type of activation has become a signature of ROSE in particular, who have created similar activations for KHAITE and others.
Walmart is back
As I write this article, Walmart is back with another virtual commerce activation, this time in Roblox. Activation consists of two separate spaces, one more attractive and the other more clearly advertising. Not entirely virtual stores, and none of the spaces actually allow the purchase of items or services either from Walmart or in the Roblox ecosystem.
Roblox activations are said to be a testing ground for future virtual world initiatives by the retail giant. It is said that these lovable virtual experiences will host other events such as concerts in the future. And maybe virtual storefronts at some point.
Vogue in virtual worlds
Walmart isn’t the only familiar name in virtual stores, and it’s certainly not the deepest in the pool. While writing this article, Vogue Business “Metaverse Atelier” takes place in a virtual world created by Journee and powered by Epic Games.
This second immersive event by the company showcased seven pieces of virtual fashion as well as 3D interviews with some of the driving forces behind the experience and other virtual fashion pioneers such as DRESSX and The Fabricant. a few weeks ago, ARPost He spoke with Spatial co-founder and CPO, Jinha Lee, about a Vogue Singapore Release the release on that platform.
“We’ve heard from the designers involved in building some of these assets that can now be used in Spatial,” He said to me. “It allows designers to express themselves more freely. … the design process becomes more iterative and interactive.”
Late last year, Spatial switched from enterprise to consumer service. Lee credits this move to more casual users looking for ways to interact in meaningful ways during the pandemic. But he says the trend has accelerated significantly since the company began working with the cross-platform avatar generator Ready Player Me this summer.
“We become a more lifestyle company when everyone can be represented in this full way,” He said to me. “Previously our clients were tech artists and now we can talk to a lifestyle client like Vogue.”
MetaVRse has been working on “The Mall” for what seems like forever. The Mall is growing out of its virtual showroom technology, a virtual store and social space in development that will likely make The Mall of America look like a small country store. The virtual world is 100 stories long, each story covering one million square feet of virtual real estate.
While the company has been releasing censored versions of the progress of The Mall for months, we got our biggest peek yet at the WebXR Brand Summit. Not only did we get a sneak peek of what a virtual store would look like, but also its avatar system, games within the virtual world, and news about cryptocurrency interfaces within the retail space.
“We called it ‘The Mall’. It’s not ‘The Metaverse Mall’ or ‘The MetaMall’ or anything like that,” Alan Smithson, co-founder of MetaVRse, said during his demo. “It is only the ‘commercial centre’. The only important mall.”
Whether you’re looking for virtual fashion, virtual stores, or just an easier way to expand your physical wardrobe, XR Fashion breaks new ground in the inherently physical industry. So what are you waiting for? Try something.