Starting in April, clothing chain Zara will introduce AR in their window displays. The move is said to be a way of attracting millennials who tend to prefer online alternatives such as Amazon to physical stores, according to Reuters.
So how will this AR installation work exactly? Well, when holding a mobile phone to a sensor in the window (or inside the store), customers will be able to see models wearing different looks, and also click to buy what they want.
The AR displays will be introduced in 120 Zara stores all over the world, from April 18.
Algorithms are commonly used to educate fashion designers on what is wanted and needed in the market. They are also used as problem solvers, like with soft-ware solution Savitude, that uses AI to recommend clothing based on the customers shape and proportions. (Finding clothes in the right size and fit remains a challenge for most online consumers).
But there might also be creative aspects to AI beyond its obvious function as a tool, as an article in Business of Fashion implicates. At least according to some of the experts talking about AI and design at SXSW during this week.
Fashion designer Gretchen Jones for instance, has researched the role of data in fashion at University of Arts in London. She found that data analytics actually can be valuable in the creative process because it can help the designers understand the customer’s emotional connection to the brand.
Other experts such as Jenna Niven, creative director at advertising agency R/GA and Eric Colson, who is chief algorithms officer at Stitch Fix, are both into the idea of AI as an inspirational tool.
According to them, AI can actually serve as a source of creative inspiration for designers, through its capacity for analyzing huge amounts of data and coming up with lots of design combinations, faster than a human can. The idea is that machines can expand the number of possibilities that a designer can consider in their working process.
AI as a design assistant if you will. And why not?
There’s an ever present need to discuss how fashion and tech is going to make use of each other and evolve together in the future. Here are a few of the upcoming conferences not to miss this spring and early summer.
First out is the brand new Swedish Beauty & Tech conference in Stockholm on April 25. The event is organized by the Swedish online tech mag Breakit that over the past year or so, have started to focus their interest more on the ever expanding fashion tech area. Their one day conference Beauty & Fashion Tech 2018 will be held on April 25 in Stockholm and includes speakers such as H&M:s new brand /Nyden, digital beauty service Dashl and digital fitting solution Virtusize among others.
Copenhagen Fashion Summit on May 15-16, focuses on sustainability and innovation technologies in that area. Among the speakers are Stella McCartney, who is collaborating with spider silk company Bolt Threads.
Fashion Tech Talks in Stockholm, is back for a second edition on June 5, again at Fotografiska in Stockholm. No speakers are confirmed at this point.
Wear Conference 2018, New York City, June 11-13: features three days of presentations, workshops and sessions about wearables, featuring for instance Ivan Poupyrev from Google ATAP, Aldjia Begriche from biosensing garment brand OMSignal and dr Amanda Parkes from Future tech Labs.
Wear It Festival in Berlin, June 19-20, is focusing on the potentials of wearables, development of new products, and creation of prototypes.
Audio AR? Now, what on earth is that? Well, we all know about visual AR, where you put a layer of extra visual information to what you see in your surroundings. For instance a map with directions on top of the street view you have in front of you. Audio AR is instead a layer of sound information added to what you see around you. And this is exactly what headphone company Bose is doing with their prototype AR sunglasses they just presented at SXSW.
So how does it work then? Well, you put the glasses on and as soon as you see something you want to know more about, you just tap on the stem and you get the info right in your ear. The glasses know what you’re looking at without needing a camera. Instead they use on-board motion sensors that can detect the direction you’re facing. They are also programmed to recognize head gestures, such as nodding and turning. For instance, you can nod your head to take an incoming call or shake it to decline.
Designwise they actually look pretty good for a prototype, and according to reports they are very light and easy to wear. So that’s promising.
But of course it’s all about the data. So far Bose is working with TripAdvisor, Yelp, Asics Studio, Strava and TuneIn, and hopefully there’s more to come for this product to work the way it’s intended.
The glasses will be released in a first version this summer.
Another image search app for fashion items has seen the light of day. Pixt, who launched in February 2018, is a New York based company aiming at helping people find new stores and unique clothes locally. It works the usual way: after downloading the app, you take or upload an image of an item with the app camera, and then you can find similar looking items nearby, and also check availability and price.
Of course, this is only useful if you happen to live in the New York area (and in the future, other urban areas of the US) but what I find interesting about this app is just that, the local factor.
With today’s online shopping habits, and big corporations and malls swallowing every attempt to do something in a small scale, it is really hard to make it as a small, local store. But at the same time, people also seem to be craving the small scale alternative, and the opportunity to find unique things in physical, local stores. Is this one way to create the much needed connection between the two? It’s definitely worth thinking about.
They both made tech look good on the wearer, while also helping to manage their electronic lives without having to pick up their phones. But now we have to say goodbye to two of the most promising wearable tech brands so far of the fashion tech era.
Ringly, founded in 2013 by Christina Mercando D’Avignon, sadly decided to exit the market just a little over a week ago. On the same day, WiseWear, founded by Jerry Wilmink and fronted by fashion icon Iris Apfel, filed for bankruptcy. Hopefully we’ll see new things from the creators of these brands in the future though.
Iris Apfel, wearing Wise Wear smart jewelry, with Wise Wear creator Jerry Wilmink.
The annual festival SXSW Interactive starts today and this year’s schedule looks exhaustive indeed. The fashion angle is present of course, and starting off today is a discussion about how AI is transforming luxury, fashion and beauty with reps from L’Oreal and Fashion Innovation Alliance among others.
Starting off tomorrow’s schedule, Erik Bang of H&M Foundation will participate in a panel discussion about biotech’s impact on fashion and on our planet. Discussion partners include Dan Widmaier from spider silk company Bolt Threads, Suzanne Lee from lab leather makers Modern Meadow and Rachel Arthur from innovation firm The Current Daily. Should be exciting!