The next time you’re watching a model do her “little turn on the catwalk,” keep in mind that she is not too sexy for the latest technology—in fact, the fashion industry is embracing tech integration like never more.
In May, IBM partnered with fashion house Marchesa to create a Met Gala dress that reacted in real time to posts about it on Twitter.
But the latest trend? Virtual reality, an industry that has reached $1 billion in 2016. Although the term “virtual reality” is often interchangeable in marketing with 360-degree video, in this case, VR refers to an immersive, though not interactive, visual experience that can be enjoyed through a VR headset. (VR implies the ability to manipulate the environment in ways other than a camera angle.)
New York Fashion Week is upon us, and British makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury released her fragrance Scent of a Dream on Saturday with a virtual reality/360-degree experience starring Kate Moss. Samsung Gear VR headsets were set up around the three-story building for celebrities, models and other guests to view the dream-like experience.
In an interview, Tilbury said she “built the scent with all these feelings of joy, love, light, positivity and power to the wearer.” She said the scent and the VR film—which was a first for both her and Moss—are meant to give the viewer a sense of traveling through time.
Designer Rebecca Minkoff is known for her high-tech approach to the shopping experience, teaming up with eBay to offer “smart dressing rooms” equipped with touch screen mirrors that request clothing to try on and even a beverage to go with it. For the fall fashion show, Minkoff introduced her own version of Google Cardboard—a branded cardboard headset that (together with a mobile phone) provides enhanced content for fans. The $25 headsets provide an intimate, (almost) 360-degree view of Rebecca Minkoff runway shows, from the models to the photographers and members of the audience. The brand’s fall 2015 runway show was filmed in VR, too.
Rebecca Minkoff CEO Uri Minkoff proudly told Racked, “We’re the first fashion brand to democratize access to VR by making it available to our audience at home, or anyone who has a Google Cardboard headset.”
Earlier this year, veteran fashion photograher Ruvan Wijesooriya hosted one of the first fashion shoots in VR, called Unstitched. The short film depicts two models dancing and posing for Wijesooriya while wearing clothes from designers like VFILES and Dries Van Noten.
The concept of immersing viewers into the world of fashion in this way has been explored by the industry for several years now. For London Fashion Week in 2014, Topshop hosted a promotion in which five competition winners sat in the window of Topshop’s flagship Oxford Circus store, where they were granted virtual access to the front row of a 360-degree cat walk experience. The campaign won “Project of the Year” at the BT Retail Week Technology Awards 2014 and Best Hybrid Event/Best Virtual Event at the 2014 Event Tech Awards.
For the moment, fashionistas can immerse themselves into virtual experiences, but are unable to interact with them aside from turning their head. 360-degree experiences are a low-cost way to introduce new technology to the masses and there’s no doubt that the fashion world will adopt more immersive experiences as they become available.
Holographic photoshoot, anyone?