Machine-A, the London-based concept store, is using augmented reality to recreate the in-person experience lost over the past year amid lockdown, as fashion’s adoption of AR widens.
The virtual store, a first for a luxury multi-brand retailer, was developed in partnership with the Institute of Digital Fashion to coincide with London Fashion Week’s start on February 19. Machine-A will showcase the work and inspiration of emerging UK designers like Martine Rose, Richard Quinn and A-Cold-Wall, to boost visibility during a particularly quiet fashion month that’s limited to digital-only shows and experiences. The project was strategised, delivered and funded by IoDF.
To enter, a QR code scan prompts a digital rendering of a sales floor where customers can explore and view the Autumn/Winter 2021 collections, unfinished pieces and personal messages from the designers sharing their inspiration or personal views on the future of fashion. The QR code will be embedded in fly-posters and billboards across London from Peckham to Notting Hill and Soho, where Machine-A is based. The Institute says the store is a “larger-scale AR experience”, mixing digital content with augmented reality.
Once a nice-to-have feature, AR has quickly become an essential technology for retailers to engage consumers and offer interaction and discovery, says Matthew Drinkwater, head of the Fashion Innovation Agency. Already Gucci, Estée Lauder and L'Oréal offer AR-powered virtual try-ons, so customers can see how different products look, while material innovation firm Pangaia and Balenciaga have tried virtual worlds. And with storytelling an important component of luxury, AR can help brands and retailers do this in an “emotive and genuine” way, says Catty Taylor, co-founder of the Institute of Digital Fashion (IoDF).
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