Augmented and Virtual Reality: The Future of Fashion Retail
Augmented and Virtual Reality: The Future of Fashion Retail

Fashion has always been known by definition as mutable. It is an industry of new trends, ideas, innovation, and bringing a fresh wave of collections for all seasons. The industry is not only transforming but setting up a gear with new technology and changing consumer trends and demands. The crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic has created a seismic shift in the fashion industry. There is a shift in consumer mindset, with the rapid development of technology, the traditional shopping patterns and customers’ attitude towards the purchase is also changing. Customers are no longer brand loyal, ‘Gimmicks’ are becoming ‘must-haves’ in today’s time as gamification of products is encouraging the excitement and thrill for exploring the unexpected.

Making the Difference

Like technology, this sector is progressive and the future of fashion is completely data-driven.

Michael Ferraro, Director, FITD Tech Lab mentioned, “Reimagine Retail (Partnership between IBM and FIT) was a powerful example of what happens when fashion partners with a global tech leader to advance challenging innovations.”

The retail industry is an industry of experience, selling dreams and creating stories. Many customers prefer to try before buying, they are looking forward to a social experience in every purchase with an excellent in-store experience. Fashion retailers using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR) are trying to make shopping more enjoyable and Insta-worthy. With this increased engagement, brands are expecting to increase sales as well as earn brand loyalty. AR with its augmented real-life environment and VR, a reality simulator is helping in saving customers’ time by quickly narrowing down the selection process.  

Avery K. Baker, Chief Brand Officer at Tommy Hilfiger, said, “It’s about delivering on the instant gratification that consumers are really seeking,” and “Closing that gap between the visibility of a fashion show and the moment of purchase.”

Try Before You Buy

66 percent of consumers were found interested in using AR for shopping as per the Google consumer Survey 2019 and Shopify tweeted the interaction of products with AR content has 94 percent higher conversion in comparison to the product without AR.

AR and VR are making customers life better with a wide range of exciting opportunities like a virtual trial room, try before you buy, try it and take it, try on without taking off, or see my fit - all are acting as a game-changer in terms of saving customers’ time as well as providing huge options to try on with convenience. AR is advancing the digital shopping experience with virtual storefronts. The collaboration of Kohl’s AR with Snapchat, Levis using Squad is making the strong relationship of brands with Millennials and Gen Z. Customers are enjoying Kohl’s Virtual Closet through the Selfie Lens by picturing themselves in Levis women trucker jacket.

Mark Morris, Senior Vice President of Digital Commerce at Burberry, said, “We know that young consumers are living in an increasingly gamified environment both online and offline and we are excited that they can join the Burberry community, and explore our new puffer collection, in this way.”

Reality Features

Brands have reached tech-savvy customers’ and revolutionized the shopping habits by giving a new way of viewing the products like ASOS (Virtual Catwalk), John Lewis (Visualise Your Space), L’Oreal (Try On), PUMA (LQD Cell Origin Air), Sephora (Virtual Artist), and Macy’s with Perch (An Amazing Place to Shop). These practices are making brands more interactive with customers and enhancing the experience of window shopping. 

Jordan Yim, Director, INHABIT, explained, “Augmented Reality technology is completely changing industries. The ability to visualize fashion and beauty products in real-time demonstrates how it’s possible to leverage AR to make a retail experience more engaging and interactive”.

Brands are not restricting them to online but also enhancing the In-store experience. ZARA has showcased its new collection with a live runway using AR and NIKE created a ‘socially engaging’ experience for its fan creating emotions through the digital platform.

Greg Jones, AR/VR, Director, Google explained, “AR is a promising prospect to strengthen ‘brand value’ through realistic and immersive storytelling”.

Transforming Retail

AR and VR have created a massive impact; customers acknowledge these technologies as extended reality (XR). One fact that can’t be ignored is the impact of AR on ROI, there is a significant lift in sales has been observed by analysts along with a 25 percent drop in product returns.

2020 has given a push to coming years with emergence to WebAR where excitement, curiosity, fun, convenience are the real drivers behind the retail revolution.

As per the report by Statista, it is predicted that AR in retail will reach approx. $80 billion by 2022. With immersed digitalization, AR is the existing reality as customers have already shown their acceptance to filter like Instagram/ messengers. AR has been around for years, with the rising popularity of ARKit and ARCore, augmented reality is going to be part of the daily web experience and natural choice for the retail fashion industry soon.

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