The fashion industry is known for staying ahead of the game by adapting to new technologies. Virtual reality (VR) is one technology used increasingly in the fashion world. It provides new opportunities for designers, retailers, and the consumer.
This guide looks at some exciting and innovative uses for VR in the fashion industry.
How is VR used in the fashion industry?
Virtual reality is used by the fashion industry to create virtual lookbooks, sell avatar clothing, and to help designers create. It is also a popular platform for running virtual catwalk events and providing virtual fitting rooms.
1. Create virtual lookbooks
VR lets fashion designers create virtual lookbooks that are interactive and engaging for customers. A digital version will let viewers get up close and personal with products before making a purchase decision.
They can rotate items, zoom in on details, and even virtually try them on. This flexibility gives customers an intimate understanding of each product’s fit and design before they buy it.
2. Avatar clothing designs
VR is impacting all areas of the fashion world, including virtual avatars. Each year, people spend billions on virtual goods, including clothes, shoes, and jewelry. Avatar fashion allows users to express themselves virtually like they can in the real world.
Sansar, by Linden Labs, offers free apparel, hats, sunglasses, and more for use on virtual characters. However, many users opt for premium items that come at a cost. Fashion brands are jumping into this area, allowing their customers to purchase their offerings virtually.
The sale of virtual products will greatly appeal to brands. The profit margins are much higher than with physical products, and it’s a new channel that provides incremental income.
3. Design and prototyping
Virtual reality assists designers in conceptualizing their ideas and bringing them to life. Without the need to create physical prototypes or samples, production costs are reduced, and the design process is much quicker.
VR also allows designers to make changes and adjustments on the fly. The whole process of creating fashion items is more efficient. Interior designers use this tech in a similar way to speed up their designing process.
4. Run virtual events
Fashion shows are often expensive and require a lot of planning. There is also limited seating space for people to sit at catwalk events. Designers can host events virtually, allowing a wider audience reach while maintaining the same engagement levels.
VR provides new opportunities for smaller businesses or independent designers who might not have the resources or budget for large-scale physical events.
Brands that have already taken advantage of virtual fashion shows include Topshop, Tommy Hilfiger, and Chanel.
5. Virtual fitting rooms
Customers can virtually try on clothes before buying them online. Virtual fitting rooms simulate what specific garments would look like if worn by real people. This innovation helps increase sales conversions and reduces returns.
Learn more about the uses for VR in retail here.
6. Custom clothing design
Lovers of unique fashion can create their own custom clothing designs from home using 3D modeling software. Offerings like Google tilt brush and Shopify Thread Studio allow users to design and print in real life.
Customers gain greater control over what they wear, from adjusting patterns and fabrics to adding text. VR helps reduce waste by eliminating unnecessary materials or pieces that don’t match a customer’s requirements.
7. Fashion experiences
Brands can offer unique experiences such as backstage tours or meet-and-greet sessions with fashion influencers, designers, and ambassadors. These events are scalable and go beyond what a customer could experience in person.
Virtual experiences give customers a sneak peek at how brands work behind the scenes while providing entertainment.
Brands can also provide customized shopping experiences tailored to individual customer preferences.
Disadvantages of VR in the fashion industry
Lack of personal interaction
One of the biggest drawbacks of virtual reality in fashion is that it lacks personal interaction between designer and customer. When shopping online or browsing through virtual catalogs, customers don’t receive the same engagement level as if they were trying on clothes in a physical store.
Initial costs may be high
The costs associated with creating virtual reality experiences can be high. Companies need to budget for hardware such as headsets, software development, and additional staff to help maintain their VR experiences. Creating fresh and exciting new content will require ongoing investment.
Risk of inaccurate information
Virtual models that need to be more realistic could discourage potential customers from purchasing online.
Only some have access to headsets or know how to use them properly. Until usage becomes mainstream, the number of people that can benefit from virtual experiences will remain limited.
Tip: Check out these resources on the how VR is used for events and expos.
Examples of brands using VR in fashion
VR in the fashion industry has been steadily growing over the past few years. Innovative brands are integrating this technology into their marketing strategies.
These are five examples of how fashion brands are using virtual reality to enhance their customer experience:
- Nike: the iconic shoe designer used VR to sketch in three dimensions when developing the Air Max Scorpion. They reduced testing time on each iteration of the shoe’s design using simulation software.
- Levi Strauss: created a realistic store experience for customers who can’t get to their flagship stores. This virtual shop allows for traditional walking and shopping, along with video content that educates the user on sustainability.
- H&M: launched a virtual showroom that allows customers to view virtual collections. The brand uses the space for customers to participate in events like brand activations. Learn more about how they’re shaking up the fashion world here.
- Burberry catwalk: used virtual reality technology during London Fashion Week to give viewers an exclusive front-row seat at its catwalk shows. Viewers could watch models strut down the runway in real-time while hearing commentary from the Burberry CEO. It created massive hype around its new collections while allowing fans worldwide to get up close and personal with its designs.
- Louis Vuitton: created augmented reality content that users could consume outside the brand’s shopfronts. Check out the video below to see how it plays out.
Uses for augmented reality in fashion
There is huge potential for AR in fashion. Brands like Lacoste, Zara, Timberland, and American Apparel have all made fun and informative content with this tech.
- High-tech fitting rooms: Products like the magic mirror allow shoppers to look in a mirror and see themselves wearing a garment or holding a handbag. Trying different colors and designs is super convenient.
- Improved store experiences: Stores are becoming more like websites with many digital touch points.
- Try before you buy: Brands like Topshop, Converse, Modiface, and Surmeseur are jumping into this tech, bridging the gap between online and offline shopping.
- AR Store windows: Allow shop fronts to provide engaging entertainment and enhanced education about new offerings.
- AR Filters: Users can augment their face or body to see how clothing ranges and accessories look before buying. Dior created filters for Snapchat, while Gucci allows users to test out sneakers.
- Enhancing products: Image recognition in stores can bring products to life. The Marks and Spencer kids apparel range allowed kids to bring animals and dinosaurs to life that were printed on the clothes.
Virtual reality is used in various ways to help designers and retailers provide better customer fashion experiences.
For designers, VR can create 3D clothing simulations, letting them visualize designs and quickly adjust. Retailers can use VR in stores to provide shoppers with a more immersive and interactive shopping experience. Shoppers will rapidly discover the benefits of virtually trying on clothes before making purchases.
As VR technology develops further, it will continue to be an invaluable tool for the fashion industry.