Style
Where the runway meets the street

Pokémon Go is officially a phenomenon which has everyone – both young and old – using their smartphones to engage in good old-fashioned scavenger hunts for colorful creatures who seemingly inhabit the world around us. But this isn’t your grandparents folksy rummage through parks and backyards. Instead, Pokémon Go is but the latest advancement in the augmented reality space, which relies on smartphone amenities like location tracking and cameras to give players a digital escape without being confined to one’s home – like in the case of interacting with next-generation consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

While AR is getting all sorts of press for its applications as it relates to gaming, the fashion and retail industries were some of the first using the cutting-edge technology.

Look no further than these five cases.

Moosejaw X-Ray App

Moosejaw has over 20 years of experience as a brick-and-mortar store that opened its inaugural location in Keego Harbor, Michigan in 1992 and have since become an online destination for products associated with snowboarding, rock climbing, hiking and camping.

To boost interest in their 2011 catalog, the company launched its Moosejaw X-Ray app which allowed consumers to virtually undress female and male models inside the pages who were otherwise covered up from by the latest offerings from The North Face and other outdoor purveyors.

Converse The Sampler

The Sampler mobile app from Converse gave people the ability to imagine what a Converse product would look like on-foot without having to actually try on a pair by pointing your iPhone camera at your leg and subsequently getting a visual reference on how it would look.

Viewed as a pioneering aspect of footwear – which will undoubtebly become a cultural norm at some point – Converse’s The Sampler also predated other innovations in the footwear space like Vans’s Virtual Footwear experience in which people would step on footprints on a mat in order to virtually “try on” a 106 Hi, Authentic or Authentic Lo Pro.

Topshop Virtual Reality Dressing Room

According to a 2013 study by Alert Technologies, brick-and-mortar retailers that get shoppers into their dressing rooms will convert 67% of them to buyers. But with more and more people relying on the convenience of online shopping, retailers have been forced to adapt to the times to get people to step foot inside their stores.

For London Fashion Week FW14, Topshop partnered with groundbreaking technology agency, Inition, to create a complete virtual reality world of the Topshop Unique show which not only allowed customers to select a garment off the rack without having to try it on physically, but also became the first retail AR experience where people could see the front and the back of the clothing.

IKEA AR Catalog

One of the trickiest aspects of buying new furniture is figuring out if it will jive well with other pieces. Additionally, you always run the risk of finding out an item doesn’t actually fit in a prospective spot even if you’ve measured on several instances.

Relying on good old-fashioned print, IKEA customers were urged to flip through the catalog and when they came across a plus symbol on a page, they could hover their phone or tablet over it until a screen popped up asking them to scan the images on the page so that they could view sofas, tables, desks and chairs in their environment.

“It’s not the easiest thing to make material look and feel as in real life,” said Pontus Sjöberg, product manager for the app. “We needed to decide how much quality and detail do we want? And how much weight should the models have?”

Uniqlo’s Magic Mirror

Coinciding with the launch of their fifth retail location in the United States in Union Square, San Francisco in October 2012, Uniqlo offered shoppers the unique ability to imagine themselves in a range of color choices of a single silhouette without the hassle of having to remove the garment.

Developed by Holition in the UK in partnership with Dai Nippon Printing Company, this “virtual dressing room” used the Kinect’s color-changing engine and a half-mirror touch panel to achieve its magic while also allowing instantaneous sharing direct from the store to social media.

Words by Alec Banks
Features Editor

Alec Banks is a Los Angeles-based long-form writer with over a decade of experience covering fashion, music, sports, and culture.

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