Grabbing headlines around the world, Balenciaga unveiled its Autumn-Winter 2021 collection in a Virtual Reality (VR) fashion show over the weekend. But this is just the latest in a continuous stream of innovation with this futuristic technology. With other fashion houses and companies like XRApplied busily crafting new experiences, there is so much to see beyond this one headline.
Necessity is the mother of investigation: Balenciaga’s show must go on
For Balenciaga, supplying a VR headset the fashion elite around the world was as much about necessity as it was innovation. Being confined because of the pandemic, encircling the runway with the usual ring of celebrities, professionals and media usually present during Balenciaga parades was not an option.
Instead, they received a VR headset, along with a QR code and an invitation to take part in the virtual event on Sunday at 2:00 pm. Like this, Balenciaga upheld the fashion industry’s reputation for innovations and the showbiz motto that the show must always go on.
This isn’t Balenciaga’s first foray into the world of VR technology
Balenciaga first embarked on the adventure of VR streaming as early as 2016, but it was on a much larger scale. Including all of its aficionados the experience, whilst unique, did not have any of the exclusivity the fashion world is notorious for.
This first foray by Balenciaga saw fans from all over the world attend its Autumn Winter 2016 collection show during Paris Fashion Week. And this, thanks to a live VR feed, was available via a dedicated application where the user could choose between 360-degree video mode, or VR mode (if equipped with a headset).
This free feature was available on Android and iOS, to the delight of fashion fans the world over. What could be better than being immersed in the miracle of VR technology at the front row of a Balenciaga fashion show?
Balenciaga isn’t the only fashion house innovating in VR
The use of immersive Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology has become quite “à la mode” in the highly prized world of luxury couture. More and more fashion brands are adopting immersive access experiences to further engage their fans.
As an example, Chanel created an Augmented Reality (AR) fitting room during an initiative called “Shop of the Future”. These state of the art fitting rooms allow the customer to make the best choice, in the best conditions, all with the help of AR. The Tommy Hilfiger and 7 For All Mankind stores have also designed in-store VR experiences to draw even more attention to their new collections.
Some fashion brands have gone even further! Dior has even put on sale its own personalized Virtual Reality headset called “Dior Eyes”. This tool allowed to live directly not only the shows but also the backstage of its fashion shows.
Why are Balenciaga and other fashion houses making this choice?
The entire fashion industry has been very responsive to the technological advances that companies like XRApplied are creating. They have been able to adapt their business models to the need for alternative tools and solutions.
However, this strategy dates back a few years, which has given them more time to adapt. Given the current conditions, it turned out that they were right! Although their initial objective was to get as close as possible to their customers in order to compete, now this need seems more like a necessity for their survival; Virtual Reality has proven to be immune to Covid-19, so it is an essential vector of the future!
All this to say that fashion brands have been leading the way in recent years in the relationship between retail and VR technology. But behind the glitz and glamour of the runways, there are companies making this VR and AR innovation possible. One of the leaders is the company XRApplied. Its XRCatalog solution allows companies to showcase their products with virtually no need to ship samples or attend trade shows. It has also created an application that allows users to select a space in their room and compare different items in place using their smartphone. All without ever leaving home. XRApplied gives companies a real opportunity to get as close as possible to their consumers in these tough times.
XRApplied and Balenciaga see VR as a real opportunity
Covid-19 will only continue to have a heavy impact on the world; it is highly likely that this will continue for years to come, and only innovation with technologies like Virtual Reality can we find effective means of adaptation. With this in mind, XRApplied is well-positioned to do well. While Balenciaga might steal the headlines with the technology, it is the companies who are working to bring the Virtual Reality revolution to fruition who stand to benefit the most from increasing VR awareness.
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