It's just a matter of time before fashion with VR really takes off.
Fashion may not be seem like the most exciting outlet for virtual reality - virtually browsing the high street is a far cry from simulated bungee jumping and the like - but think outside the box, and there are so many ways that VR can become vogueish in the fashion industry. Let’s start with the basics - fashionable VR. Is there a market for glitzy alternatives to standard VR devices? It seems niche, but there have been rumours that Dior plans to introduce stylish and chic VR headsets, with a scintillating logo embellished across the front, in select boutiques.
However, Amelia Kallman, innovation consultant at interactive technology company Engage Works, remains unconvinced: “When you understand how transformative the experience of being in a virtual world can be, the aesthetics of how you look wearing a headset in reality is irrelevant,” she says.
VR recently made headlines during Stockholm’s Fashion Week. In a project dubbed ‘Democratic Front Row’, three celebrities gave up their front-row seats for Swedish designer Ida Klamborn’s show - and were replaced by robots equipped with VR cameras. With the help of Google Cardboard, fashion lovers could view the show in real time from the comfort of their homes.
The potential for VR at fashion shows as a revenue-raising device is evident. This could be in the form of pay-per-view service, allowing access to exclusive fashion events, or by spreading the brand’s consumer reach.
Why stop at viewing fashion, when you can purchase catwalk trends in VR? Virtual shopping may sound like a more complicated variant of the online version, but in practice it offers shoppers the opportunity to make more informed choices.
“Online shopping cannot provide a showroom experience,” says Hrvoje Prpic, CEO of Trillenium, which specialises in developing online VR experiences for shoppers. With platforms like Trillenium, says Prpic, shops are able to provide a real-world experience of shopping. “The only difference is that this can happen anytime and anywhere. You can shop on Oxford Street in your lunch break, without the travelling.”
Unbelievable as it may seem, the next step in the industry may actually be trying clothes on. Could VR offer a solution to the nightmare of online size guides?
A wave of start-ups has emerged to address the problem. In 2009, Zugara introduced The Webcam Social Shopper, software which allows shoppers to use a webcam as a mirror to try on items, while London-based Fits.me developed its Virtual Fitting Room, which pairs shoppers with stores that best match their measurements.
In the future, Kallman envisages customisable avatars with the ability to try on clothes, ensuring that those jeans fit not just your style, but your body, perfectly. As VR becomes more advanced, she says, the whole experience could become even richer. “Wearables, gesture and voice recognition, as well as haptics - the ability to ‘feel’ textures and fabrics through produced sensations -will all have a major effect.”