Return rates of online shopping lies at over 60%. In 2019 returns cost UK fashion retailers £90.76 million. So the possibility of trying on clothes virtually before you buy will make a huge difference to online consumer experience.
Apps such as Zugara have created the Webcam Social Shopper to let consumers ‘hold’ different items of clothing up against themselves, using augmented reality technology.
They want to replicate that moment in a shop where you pick up a dress on a hanger, hold it up against yourself, and holler over to your shopping companion to say ‘hey, what do you think of this one?’.
Whilst the app Fitiquette works by guiding you through the creation of a customized virtual mannequin (Avatar) that exactly resembles your own measurements, showing you a 360 view of how the garment would move and drape in real life.
SELLING VIRTUAL CLOTHES
The use of virtual clothes to aid physical sales is not where this digital bravado stops.
Fortnight fans rack up millions of dollars on skins for their avatars. Money being spent on virtual content in the gaming industry is already huge, and the fashion industry is only just beginning to realize that there might an opportunity for financial gain here.
One such brand is Moschino, who recently launched a Sims-inspired capsule collection complete with green diamond-printed swimsuits. The launch was also accompanied by the release of a virtual version of the capsule’s Freezer Bunny hoodie for all of the current Sims titles so that your Sims can be kitted out in Moschino too.
Kerry Murphy, founder of The Fabricant - an Amsterdam-based ‘digital fashion house’ that creates hyper-real virtual clothing for fashion brands and retailers - thinks it won’t be long until we see a luxury brand do a completely digital collection.
'We’re already in talks with some brands who are thinking about digital-only drops and starting to adopt this digital-only way of thinking,' Murphy says.
But could virtual luxury fashion ever take off? Last May, in New York, the world’s first piece of ‘digital couture’ was sold at a charity auction for £7,500 ($9,500). The iridescent, translucent one-piece was designed by Amber Jae Slooten, creative director at The Fabricant, to be fitted onto a photo of the owner.
As technology improves the photo-realism of what you can create gets more impressive, you start thinking about the possibility as to whether the desirability of digital clothing could become on a par with the real thing.
Creative possibilities begin to spring up, too. For designers and brands stuck in a specific way of creating, you can push the boundaries without the anxiety of blowing a budget on fabric. 'Suddenly those harnesses are released and you can begin to go beyond what anyone has ever seen before.
Whilst the uprise in people taking so much pride in their online representation through Social Media & Dating Apps - it is actually feasible to see people in the near future paying to enhance their own image with unique digital products.
It's crazy to deny that our lives are becoming more virtual and that we are moving towards a more digital existence, especially with the popularity of virtual influencers like Lil Miquela (with 1.6 million Instagram followers) People are following her like any soap opera on TV, but two years ago, everybody was saying that’s ludicrous as well.
However you might feel about virtual clothes, there’s no ignoring that the fashion industry in general needs a serious overhaul. Digital fashion could potentially pave the way for a more sustainable business model – one where our overconsumption of worn-once clothing is drastically diminished.
Post and save the planet at the same time? We're here for it - whether we actually get there remains to be seen.