Fashion is an ever-evolving field. The 2.4 trillion dollar-worth industry has always been open to new trends, whether it is channelled via conventional fashion shows and multimedia marketing, or e-commerce and other online platforms. With such a drive for keeping up with the trends, fashion is now moving towards the latest in technology: Augmented Reality (AR).
Augmented reality, or AR, is a technology that functions to add to the reality which you would ordinarily experience, except without changing this reality for you in real life. To put it into simpler words, AR is like a Snapchat filter! Augmented reality is a tool that has revolutionised how consumers interact with different franchises and markets. Today, AR is changing the way the fashion industry creates and showcases fashion wear and accessories.
Fashion, like every business field, demands the establishment of strong and steady relations between the brand and customers. Customers need to be engaged and remain that way. To captivate the audience, innovative strategies and well-planned policies using augmented reality are developed. Brands can grant its audience with the AR experience in both their walk-in stores and online shopping websites. AR allows brands to connect with their customers seamlessly. This also shows to the customers that the brand is willing to work the extra mile to provide them with value and better service. Studies show that around 60 - 65% of customers felt more engaged with the fashion brand, which provides AR experience and that around 55% of the consumers were more likely to purchase from these brands too. Augmented reality offers consumers with not only an exciting experience but also confidence in their purchasing decisions, especially over the process of online shopping.
Today, the target market of the fashion industry comprises 90% millennial individuals. Unlike the previous generations who bought clothes for either function or status portrayal, today’s audience also purchase clothes as a way of presentation of their style, personality, and aesthetics. Comparatively, people are more knowledgeable about and equipped with technology. The ‘woke’ generation of today requires businesses to use advanced online strategies to boost interaction and brand awareness. Social media is another big part of the life of an average person today. As more and more consumers expect a smooth and seamless shopping experience, more brands are finally ready to invest in AR. Augmented reality lets the brand take advantage of the many benefits the social media has to offer and helps in the production and promotion of innovative campaigns.
Brands using AR
One of the first fashion brands to bring in AR in their online stores is GAP. They first introduced augmented reality through an app called DressingRoom. This app allows users to build an avatar based on their size and body type. The user can select the desired items of clothing and the app will automatically try it on the virtual body but also provide the user with the view of the garment from all directions in 3D. This way, the brand offers the services of the product to its consumers in their own homes. While staying in the comfort of their houses, users get to experience the in-store experience over the online platform. Wanna Kicks is another example of an AR app. This enables the customers to try on the 3D models of various sneaker designs available. The customer only needs to select the pair of shoes and direct their mobile camera to their feet through the app.
Topshop and Zara also invested in AR. They have inaugurated AR screens in their stores to enhance brand awareness and marketability further. The customers shopping in the store can try on the garments available virtually by just standing in front of the camera or the AR screen. The screen allows the user to change the virtual garments either by the use of special electronic markers or just by hand gestures. The customers get a complete (i.e. front and back) view of how the garment will look on them: all of this without having to physically try the dress on!
Other fashion brands using AR include Sephora, Converse, Marks & Spencer, Burberry, and Gucci.
Virtual Shopping with AR during COVID-19
AR caters greatly to the fast-moving and on-the-go audience which demands quick solutions to their problems. It has especially become a necessity during this current pandemic. For the buyers willing to purchase fashion goods at this time, the AR services have become essential to them. People want to be able to try the item without physically having to go to the store. COVID-19 precautions and the lockdowns have added limitations to the retail process and the fashion industry is adapting to meet demands. The industry has shifted largely to e-commerce. Customers need certainty and assurance in their purchase decisions.
About the Author
Ayesha AR is a fashion design student, working to fulfil her drive for being a part of the creative industry. What began as a hobby turned into a passion as she grew up. Preparing for medical studies her whole life, this brown girl didn't want to become another involuntary doctor, and so she dropped her passed medical entrance examination and pursued fashion design. She showcased her skills as a designer in the form of her up-cycled, sustainable 3-piece garment in FASTE 2019, which won her awards. She continues to learn and work hard to achieve her dreams.