Pooja Bhageria
Augmented Reality: The Latest Trend In The Fashion Industry

Fashion and Beauty is undeniably one of the most innovative and fast-moving industries when it comes to engaging consumers and developing innovative strategies. Now imagine introducing a powerful and compelling tool like Augmented Reality (AR) to this equation. Result? Enhanced marketing campaigns and consumer engagement leading to boosted SALES. Be it online or offline markets, time and again fashion retail tends to find early adopters in anything that is judged as “trending” or “the next big thing.” According to an estimate by Digi-Capital, 3.5 billion people would be using augmented reality by 2022, which equates to “44%” of the World’s population. In an interview with Vogue, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that Augmented Reality is set to modernise shopping experiences and fashion runways. “I don’t think there is any sector or industry that will be untouched by AR,” Cook said.

The world of fashion has already begun to comprehend this colossal shift to AR. “Augmented Reality technology is completely changing industries. The ability to visualise fashion and beauty products in real time, demonstrates how it’s possible to leverage AR to make a retail experience more engaging and interactive,” explains Jordan Yim, Director at INHAABIT. This move is not just limited to the transforming processes undertaken by brands but has also been embraced by the consumers in recent years. According to an article by Forbes, Greg Jones, director of VR and AR at Google stated that insights from Google show 61% of the users say they would prefer to shop stores that offer AR. “AR is set to reconnect physical and digital retail,” he said. Several retail brands have already rolled out AR features in their apps and in-store experiences. There are massive plusses for businesses adapting Augmented Reality technology. This article further discusses brand examples and how they’ve benefited from the use of AR.

Sephora has incorporated a “Virtual Artist” feature in its mobile application. The feature was an immediate winner generating around 45 million hits in the first eight weeks. It helps to eliminate issues that many consumers face while making online cosmetic purchases – “Is this shade right for my skin tone? Would it look good on my face?”. Augmented Reality has created the convenience of a trial at home and helped to accelerate the online shopping experience.

Designer brands are not far behind and have started to showcase exclusive collections and create real-life experiences. Suzanne Harward, one of Australia’s leading wedding couture brands has introduced the Suzanne Harward Virtual View mobile application that transforms bridal gown shopping into an effortless and enticing experience for brides. Employing the inventive AR technology, the app enables the customers to view Suzanne Harward’s exclusive wedding couture collection on “life-size models” in the convenience of their homes, thus providing a comfortable and engaging experience. Brides can zoom into the intricate details, premium fabric and see the model in full 360 degrees, to visualise how each gown would appear in real life. This paves way for a more confident and informed decision making, which is proven to be a mutual benefit for both customers and retailers. Suzanne Harward Virtual View is available on iOS and Android.

Wanna Kicks lets its users try a pair of sneakers on their feet, with added tracking features that enable them to move around freely (which consumers usually do in physical stores). How cool is that? In an interview with TechCrunch, WannaBy CEO and ex-Googler Sergey Arkhangelskiy stated, “We believe that AR try-on can help customers to shop online and will wash away the difference between online and offline shopping.”

Benefits are not just limited to online retailing. Augmented Reality also enhances the in-store experience for consumers. Global retailer Zara has implemented AR to showcase its brand-new collection at the storefront, which provides a live runway like demonstration of items. Experiences like these add a layer of emotion through the digital platform. Greg Jones, director of VR and AR at Google explained how AR is a promising prospect to strengthen “brand value” through realistic and immersive storytelling.

Social media has now become an indispensable part of most of our lives, thus reassuring several brands to engage with the social lives of the consumers. Nike has capitalised on the AR to create a “socially engaging” experience for its fans. Through their experimental ‘SNKRS Stash’ in Los Angeles, users were assigned the task of finding specific locations via hints provided in the app. Upon arrival, they would receive a special offer, giving them access to limited edition and exclusive shoes. AR has enabled brands to unlock the many benefits of social media engagement and innovative campaigns.

AR is an exciting new way to experience products and these brands are paving the way for digital advancement in the world of fashion. Global leaders like Zara and Nike are a great example and source of encouragement for others to formulate AR campaigns and strategies to revolutionise the way consumers shop and interact. Fashion retail is a dynamic industry and staying up to date with the latest technology is essential to moving forward. At the end of the day, fashion is all about making customers “happy and confident”, right?

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