How augmented reality and facial recognition are changing the fashion industry

How augmented reality and facial recognition are changing the fashion industry


AR turns traditional shopping experiences upside-down and turns your smartphone into a virtual fitting room. So what's next for the AR trend?

Mar 11 4 minute read

Trying on clothes without actually having to change, a dream for many people. With the rise of AR, these kinds of inventions are ready to take on the fashion industry and it shouldn’t take too long before most brands have implemented Augmented Reality into their shopping experience. Remember the clothing app Cher had in that movie Clueless? It was not that crazy.

As with everything, the fashion industry is eager to be one of the first to adopt the newest trends and developments.

Facial recognition is often used in the beauty industry already, for example trying on make-up products with the L'Oréal L’oreal lipstick try-on feature on Amazon, or changing your hair colour with the Hair Color App from Modiface.

What are the opportunities for fashion brands?

In retail, there’s a lot to win as well, especially with augmented reality. Research by Interaction showed that 61% of shoppers have been influenced in where they buy their clothes due to AR technology. 

But what does augmented reality actually mean? Well, it’s basically a virtual feature that is non-existent and appears in a real-time setting. The difference with virtual reality is that the environment in VR is completely imaginary, and with AR, the environment is real-time. A popular example of AR is the Pokemon Go game that released a couple of years ago.

Some important advantages for fashion brands are:

  • Try before you buy

The customer can try on everything before they buy it, without having to go to a fitting room. They can also try on garments with different outfits or different accessories, and if you want, in different locations as well. 

  • Saving time

The implementation of AR saves a lot of time for customers and brands. According to the research, 45% of customers have addressed this as a serious advantage of AR. Mostly because fitting rooms will become less crowded as people can also buy at home.

  • It has a fun aspect to it

And of course, there are many people who think AR in the fashion industry is fun. In the report of Interaction, the percentage of people who see this as an important factor is 55.

How easy is it to implement these strategies yourself?

Depending on the extent to which you want to implement AR, is can be very easy to implement it or it can be a lot more complex. Nowadays, building your own try-on app is not as complex as it used to be, and brands are making use of this trend more and more. 

An example of a try-on app for fashion is Wanna Kicks, an application to try on shoes at your home (or wherever you like for that matter). The only thing you need to do is point your phone at your feet and click on the pair of sneakers you want to try. 

Another product that is very popular when it comes to AR implementation for try-ons are (sun)glasses. Multiple brands have adapted this feature, and the improvements in facial recognition make sure the try-on perfectly fits each face. Some brands that let you try your new nerdy or sunny look are: Specsavers, Ditto, Eyeconic, Ray-Ban and Warby Parker. The last one has created an app that is only available for iPhone, but therefore perfectly lines up with the new facial recognition features that Apple offers. 

There are also stores that are making use of the new AR trend, for example by the integration of “smart mirrors” like the one in this video
How easy it is to apply AR and facial recognition strategies yourself depends on the type of brand and product you’re selling. Glasses or make-up might be rather easy to use in a try-on app, but at least for now, I would personally rather put on a dress in real life to see if I like it. However, technology is increasingly getting more advanced, so this can change faster than we think. 

What does the future hold for us?

As forecasted by some, stores will look different due to technological changes. In a research done by SAS and Futurum, the expected customer journey in 2030 has been written down.

One of their expectations is that online shops will become even more popular, which will form a challenge for physical retail shops. These physical stores will therefore change their purpose and set-up. In their article, Futurum predicts that physical stores will become designed as a customer experience which will enhance social interactions. Windows will serve as an interactive shop which can be used outside of opening times and can allow customers to buy products by scanning a product. 


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