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Digi-Dressing: How Virtual Fitting is Disrupting the Retail Space

Whilst nothing can replace touching and trying on a physical product, virtual changing rooms are an exciting option for retailers looking to reduce the likelihood of returns and meet the needs of tech-smart customers.

15 August 2019

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Earlier this year Amazon announced their AR ‘virtual fitting room’ – an app that lets customers digitally try on clothes with an avatar of themselves. The app, yet to be released, takes consumer’s images and measurements then renders these into a virtual avatar with which they can try on outfits. This move to AR is bold, exciting, and something we’re noticing more and more within the retail space here at SupplyCompass. But what is the future of AR for retailers, and where can it take us?


Augmented reality technology like Amazon digital fitting room is not new, facsimiles have been released by IKEA and Amazon for interiors; helping shoppers picture what certain furniture products look like in their homes. However, a virtual changing room for retailers is still ground-breaking for a fashion industry looking to reduce the likelihood of returns and meet the needs of tech-smart customers. What’s more, Amazon’s new app will be able to mine a wealth of data to best serve customer recommendations based on style preference, weather, even based on diary dates consumer’s have on their phones (Monday morning meeting? They’ve got just the thing).


Luxury brands too, are making this shift towards virtual fitting. This year, Gucci also partnered with start-up Wannaby to develop a function within their iOS app that allows fans to try on their ace sneakers in different sizes, styles and textiles by pointing their phone camera at their feet. But will this technology be able to emulate the tactile nature of shopping? We like to touch, stretch, walk about or sit down in items before we know if we want them to be ours. This isn’t something virtual fitting can ever provide us with.


There is, however, a facet to Gucci’s AR try-ons that cleverly speak to their ever-image-conscious consumer: the technology lets you take a picture of yourself wearing your virtual shoes. The luxury brand has taken note of some consumer’s basest motivators when purchasing clothing - the desire to be seen wearing the garment on social media.


Likewise, digital-only fashion collections are on the rise. Scandinavian retailer Carlings released a digital-only fashion collection recently called ‘Neo-Ex’, with products ranging from £9-£30. How does it work? You send in a photo of yourself and the retailer’s e-commerce team and 3D designers will send you back that same image, but with your chosen garment digitally edited onto you.


Trends like this have great potential for sustainable business models for obvious reasons. The supply chain of a digital garment is the antithesis of a typical garment – it’s barely even physical. No fabric, no greenhouse gases, no physical labour.  This isn't saying the future of fashion will be purely digital, however, a shift to virtual fitting spaces may be welcomed by retailers looking to reduce their returns, increase their customer knowledge through data, improve customer service and, most importantly, reduce their environmental impact. Less returns means less labour, emissions and packaging throughout the supply chain; that’s certainly something we can all get excited about.


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