The tech world has probably never been moving so quickly, and it doesn’t just feel that way. As one writer pointed out last year, with some supporting evidence, technology feels like it’s accelerating because it actually is. With each handful of years that passes by, tech seems to dictate and dominate our lives in new ways. This hasn’t quite been true of fashion just yet, but it certainly will be in the near future!
Here’s what that might mean:
A VR Takeover
You’ve probably heard about virtual reality taking over other industries. There’s a lot of talk about how it will change medical schools, Hollywood, and most notably, gaming, where things go far beyond what you might imagine. It’s not just shooters and racing games and the like being adapted. Leading up to VR, we had already seen online arcades and casino sites designing interactive mini-games that make them well suited to a more immersive style (like VR). Puzzle games that have become popular on mobile devices can become 3D, first person exploration experiences. Poker and board games can become realistic multiplayer experiences….
These are the things that are talked about most when VR comes up. But there’s great potential in fashion also! In particular, there’s mounting buzz about how VR headsets could change or basically do away with common fitting rooms. With VR, you could potentially select outfits to try on virtually, and either walk through a simulated environment (like a city street) to see how you look out and about, or simply look into a fake mirror that shows you wearing said outfit. Trying on actual clothes will still be necessary to establish fit and comfort, of course, but we might be able to look through options far more quickly.
Who else has always wanted Cher's closet from Clueless? Photo from Pinterest.
If you’re interested in fashion, you’ve undoubtedly had the experience of really wanting an article of clothing that you simply saw somewhere. Maybe your favorite celebrity was wearing it in a photo, or maybe it’s even something you saw in a fashion magazine but it wasn’t properly labeled. It can be pretty annoying, and you can end up spending hours (er, guilty…) searching the internet for anything that might resemble the outfit. Often, the search is not successful.
You’re probably getting the idea of what I’m about to tell you: this problem may soon become part of the past! This happy news is thanks to something called “visual search,” which is simplified above and called photo-based searching. It’s exactly what it sounds like. There’s one account that describes it as acting as a sort of Shazam for clothing, which might actually be the best description. You can literally take a photo, or section off part of an existing one, and algorithms will search for the clothing in the image, such that you’ll have a real shot of being directed to where you can buy it. It doesn’t get much better than that for those of us who like to find inspiration for our wardrobes online.
Retail Will Imitate Online Shopping Convenience
This is a little bit less specific of an idea, but it’s still one that will affect most of us. Some are predicting that a combination of online shopping and the growing number of services that deliver basically any kind of product could actually kill in-person retail. That seems doubtful. More likely is that companies will seek to update their retail locations such that they can imitate the convenience of online shopping. Some of this is already happening.
In a way, this actually fits with the VR concept mentioned above. The ability to try on clothes in virtual reality actually makes it easier to shop than it is even online. But that’s not the only change we’re going to be seeing in stores. We’ll also be seeing technology that can make a connection to shoppers’ phones, identify those customers, and help them shop. This might mean directing them to certain inventory, accessing their shopping history, or even providing special coupons. Basically, it’s everything you have at your disposal when you visit a retail website!
These changes are all possible right now, and they’re being implemented already. That means in the coming years, those big tech changes that are happening in every other aspect of our lives will indeed be coming to fashion.
*This article is a contributed post, approved by Blonde in the District*