Indian Fashion Brands Arrive Fashionably Late to the Tech Party – Analytics India Magazine

Much like every other product-based industry, the fashion industry is also opening up to the adoption of virtual and augmented reality in order to create personalised customer experiences, which is then expected to drive increased sales. Customers are engaging with such brands throughout their purchasing experience as the latter provides them with the unique approach of interactive shopping
This approach deploys emerging technologies, such as AR/VR and others, to allow customers to pick their favourite products without having to be physically present in the store to try them on.
However, despite such concerted efforts across brands, there haven’t been equally significant improvements witnessed for their Indian counterparts over the last decade. It seems that perhaps now—more than ever—we need to catch up with these emerging trends and the technologies that contribute to their rising popularity. But, where do we begin?
Italian luxury brand Gucci created an AR-backed iOS app that allowed customers to remotely and virtually try on its ‘Ace sneakers collection’ in 2019. Gucci also collaborated with the multimedia messaging app ‘Snapchat’ to offer a virtual trying-on experience through the app. It was the first luxury fashion brand to partner with a social media platform to drive sales with an AR tool. Gucci’s entry into virtual reality proved to be very effective in shooting up sales. According to Robert Triefus, Gucci’s executive vice-president of brand and customer engagement, the brand is working towards an immersive shopping experience by merging physical and digital realities. The French sports fashion brand Lacoste also used augmented reality technology for a similar purpose—allowing customers in offline stores to digitally ‘try on’ their LCST streetwear collection and interact with additional content prepared by the company.
Image source: VentureBeat
In 2019, ASOS, the British online fashion and cosmetic retailer, launched an experimental AR feature called ‘Virtual Catwalk’ to help users visualise clothes on human models prior to making a purchase. It also created a feature called ‘See My Fit’ in 2020 amid lockdown that offered customers the option to see how clothes fit on 16 different models—ranging from sizes 4 to 18—in a realistic-looking setting. However, ASOS received much criticism for not being inclusive enough since there was no model above size 18.
Image source: Bustle
Another interesting development in the global fashion sector is Timberland’s AR magic mirror that enables customers to virtually ‘dress’ themselves in select outfits. In addition, Timberland collaborated with Lemon & Orange to be one of the first brands to bring virtual fitting rooms to Mokotów Gallery, a shopping centre in Poland. 
But this is not limited to fashion brands alone. Other industries are equally enthusiastic in their adoption of interactive shopping. For instance, in the cosmetic industry, companies have been incorporating AI and AR to provide better personalised experiences for their consumers. 
One of the most notable developments in this sector is the French makeup D2C L’Oreal acquiring Canadian AR specialist ModiFace in 2018. This acquisition allowed customers to select eyeshadows, concealer shades, and lipsticks—among other products—and try them on a virtual mirror in live video. 
Although deemed revolutionary prima facie, it was soon found that it isn’t easy to understand whether the shades suit well even if one can see them on their skin. The lip colour feature is also wonky as the colour generally turns out to be darker or lighter in real life. To add to the misery, the fake lip plumping feature makes it worse for buyers who are merely seeking products that best suit them and not a virtually-modified version of them. With L’Oreal buying Maybelline, one can use this try-on element on all apps which sell Maybelline products. 
Last year, the popular Indian ecommerce company and cosmetic giant Nykaa said that it would bring L’Oreal’s ModiFace to beauty enthusiasts at home. But, there are yet to be any notable developments following the announcement.
Contrary to the international market, the Indian fashion and cosmetic industries have been slow in their adoption of immersive technologies. With much pomp and show, online fashion retailer Myntra introduced an offline store for its private label, Roadster, in Bengaluru in 2017. CEO Ananth Narayanan claimed that the store would serve as an “experience zone” and planned to open 50 such stores by 2020. The store had VR displays and huge touch screens. The items had radio-frequency identification tags (RFID) to allow customers to pay and check out independently in a matter of 30 seconds. The offline store primarily aimed to increase brand visibility and also had a VR zone, with four Samsung Gear VR headsets to watch a 360-degree video showcasing the “Roadster life”. 
Myntra did not use VR to enhance the customers’ shopping experiences but used it merely as a promotional tool. This ultimately led the Flipkart-owned company to succumb to losses and shutdown the offline store in March 2019.
But, not every brand used tech for promotional purposes alone. Omnichannel eyewear brand Lenskart took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak to introduce virtual reality devices for its customers. They could check how frames looked on their faces from the website and made purchases without physically going to the store. This included face scanning and analysis. Based on the face shape and size, it recommended frames as well. The virtual reality device also offered a 360-degree view of the glasses. However, even if one could try on glasses, the interface could be much smoother. Several users reported that the device merely shows one static glimpse of their faces with glasses but disappears once it takes you to the main page. 
John Jacobs, a premium D2C eyewear brand, also implements augmented reality. But, unlike Lenskart, it captures video of the customers’ faces while trying on glasses. You can move your head left and right to see how it looks.
Although not many brands across fashion and cosmetics in India have been quick in their adoption of emerging technologies, several of them acknowledge that AR has the potential to fundamentally revolutionise and rethink the client experience—whether it pertains to apparel, accessories, footwear, home decor, or other products entirely. 
Beyond the potential for conversion, AR’s capacity to lessen the significant load of item returns may be more alluring to brands and online retailers as this technology promises to give their customers a technical method by which they can correctly and confidently confirm the size and form of a product, whether it’s a sofa or a sweater. 
Read: Need a Fashion Designer? Just Ask the AI
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