Tech trends for 2015: The virtual fitting room
In-store changing rooms are set to become a thing of the past as 2015 sees virtual fitting rooms become the standard for online shopping…
“We’re at an exciting inflection point for the [virtual fitting room] industry. Several start-ups have created working solutions and attracted brand-name, paying clients.”
Given the steady rise in e-commerce, it wasn’t going to be long before a new wave of online shopping technology came to the fore – enter virtual fitting rooms. Allowing shoppers to try clothes on online using a range of methods such as 3D model representation and body scanning, virtual changing rooms are not only set to change where we shop (online as opposed to in-store) but how we shop; reducing the common drawback of shoppers not being able to “try before they buy” online.
This growth in virtual fitting room technology has been matched by investor interest; in October UK virtual fitting room start-up Metail secured an impressive $12m in a deal led by Hong Kong fashion firm TAL Apparel, and just three days later its early-stage competitor Fits.me announced the first €4.2m of a €7m ‘top-up’ investment from its existing management team. Yet it’s not just investors looking to get involved with the trend, brands are equally as keen and both Metail and Fits.Me have already signed up several leading retailers including Superdry, Thomas Pink, Hugo Boss and Tesco.
The commercial appeal of virtual fitting rooms doesn’t just apply to the retailers own site either; computer scientists at the London College of Fashion are currently developing software which will allow shoppers to use their own camera or webcam to find the “perfect fit”. The software is set to enable users to take an image of themselves, upload it and then add in basic data, with the computer then making a size recommendation for the shopper.
How it works
Although a fairly straightforward concept, the term “virtual fitting rooms” actually extends to a range of different e-commerce technologies from an online fitting room with real 3D simulation, photos or dress-up mannequins, to the use of body scanners, augmented reality and real models.
One example of how this works in practice is Metail’s virtual fitting room service which allows female shoppers to input measurements such as height, weight and bra size in order to create a 3D model of themselves. This can then be used to try clothes on online from retailers.
This use of virtual fitting room technology isn’t limited to online – across the pond in the US, tech start-up Fitnect is working on an in-store augmented reality virtual changing room. The service uses remote cloud servers to enable shoppers to select the items they like and hold it up against themselves to see what the garment looks like; effectively allowing you to preview products without having to physically put them on. The technology also allows you to take a “virtual snapshot” so you can keep the image and share it on social media.
It’s also worth noting that despite a dominant focus on female consumers, virtual fitting room technology is also being developed for male shoppers. American firm Arden Reed creates bespoke menswear using 3D scanning technology which scans over three million body points to create tailor-made suits in a four to six week timeframe.
James Gambrell, CEO and chairman of Fit.sme, said of the growth in virtual fitting rooms:
“We’re at an exciting inflection point for the industry. Several start-ups have created working solutions and attracted brand-name, paying clients.
“But only a select few have been able to deliver the value that commands fee levels that justify the working capital and investment necessary to scale their business on a global scale.
“Those that can, including Fits.me, have successfully attracted new investment. Those that can’t may be unable to attract sufficient capital to grow and will start to vanish as they fail to secure further funding. We expect some consolidation in this highly fragmented sector.”