Future or fantasy – The rise of the digital models

Following the world’s first metaverse fashion week, consumers are reconsidering not only the way they dress, but also how they engage with fashion entirely.

While the pandemic has inevitably changed the way that people shop, it has also rapidly sped up the need for digital solutions in the retail environment. As a result, people are actively seeking personalisation and unique experiences when entering the retail environment – whether that is online or on the highstreet.

Everyone remembers Cher’s wardrobe in Clueless – the concept of being able to access a digital wardrobe with a completely unique avatar, accurate to body measurements, is, in fact, achievable. “It is through through our PICTOFiT technology, consumers are able to access their very own personalised model in minutes, enabling them to try on clothes, shoes, and accessories in virtually any environment, meaning they can see exactly how an outfit will look anywhere in the world” says Stefan Hauswiesner, CEO and co-founder of Reactive Reality, the leader in scalable virtual try-on technology powered by artificial intelligence

“Digital models, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence work together to personalise the shopping journey for each individual, allowing for inclusive physical (and digital) experiences. Shoppers are no longer limited by physical mannequins or traditional model photography as they shop online.” It is through new fashtech that shoppers can create their own personal avatar or personalised mannequin, enabling them to visualise exactly how outfits will look on their body, without even having to leave the house.

The technology means that people who are perhaps not physically able to enter the retail environment, for whatever reason, can see how items will look on them, in a multitude of environments – not just in the changing room – and buy them, without having to leave their homes. The technology also gives consumers a true reflection of fit and style, thus reducing the amount of environmentally harmful and unnecessary deliveries and returns.

Fashion in the metaverse, and indeed in the digital space, not only push the boundaries of consumer shopping behaviour, it is also having a profoundly positive impact on the future of the fashion industry.

Augmented reality and digital models have revolutionised fashion model shoots in a cost-effective way. Traditionally, live model photoshoots were resource-intensive and delivered single-purpose images. AR resolves this challenge and enables digital fashion image generation that creates smart, stand-alone digital assets from ordinary garment and model photos. It allows brands and retailers to generate as many on-model outfit combinations as needed in post-production. Brands and retailers can add their own models, choose from different ethnicities, genders, poses, body shapes, the options are limitless. Furthermore, backgrounds can be changed to real or virtual scenes. Brands and retailers now have the opportunity to become more inclusive across gender, location, body shape and ethnicity, without the constraints of time and cost.

As brands start to adapt and roll out engaging omnichannel experiences powered by virtual try-on technology, consumers will be able to start their shopping journey online and finish the purchase in the store, or vice versa, via their digital model and digital wardrobe. In-store shoppers can virtually try on items that are out of stock and have them shipped to their homes. This can evolve into the first truly useful zero-inventory stores – stores that do not hold inventory but allow shoppers to view outfits virtually, on large, high-fidelity screens. An intermediate step towards this will be automated stores that use smart warehousing and picking robots to cut down on floor space while still enabling a rich shopping experience – powered by virtual try-on technology.

While the world’s first fashion week in the metaverse may not have gone off with not hitches (clearly there is still a long way to go before we are all living a ‘second life), it is clear that companies and brands such as Reactive Reality are enabling consumers to explore new channels and avenues of digital fashion, offering inclusivity, personalisation and a more sustainable future.

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