From Chanel's 'lipscanner' that detects lip tone to Zara's size guide: progress (and pending tasks) in virtual fitting rooms

  • By:karen-millen



FashionSmart fitting rooms have become a competitive advantage and an alternative that suits the current consumer demands of the digital age.

By Lorena Murga La Rosa

The global situation has led firms to promote adaptation and innovation as fundamental pillars of their business strategy, and new technologies have served as a key tool during this process. Smart fitting rooms are an example of how digitization in the fashion industry has accelerated, transforming the shopping experience for users in recent times.

This alternative has made it possible to adapt an experience that used to be purely physical to the digital environment. Despite the fact that this proposal began to emerge several years ago, it has gained more validity now, between the restrictions and limitations of stores derived from COVID-19, to which must be added the exponential growth of online commerce.

A digital shopping experience

Virtual fitting rooms are based on artificial intelligence and technology. There are various models and upgrades on the market. Its beginnings date back to RFID tags, tiny radio frequency chips that automated the management of merchandise stock. Its greatest virtue, the automatic recognition of a specific garment, meant that the mirror could also be used as an interactive screen that showed additional sizes and colors of the chosen pieces. As well as recommendations to combine with them, as a virtual assistant. This recognition also led to a more practical checkout experience (when you go to pay, you already know what you're getting), and some businesses even allow you to cross-reference the data of those purchases with our online purchases to offer us clothing according to our style.

The next technological step was the 3D recognition of our bodies, to recreate a model in augmented reality (AR, for its acronym in English) that would allow us to observe the clothes on our virtual avatar. This alternative to traditional changing rooms has not only become a response to the barrier of physical space for electronic commerce. But it also presents a range of advantages that result in specialized customer service without time availability limitations, which physical stores cannot offer. Leading technology companies, such as Toshiba or Samsung, have been developing different prototypes of augmented reality, not only in the field of fashion.

Firms that bet on 'intelligent' changing rooms

Del 'lipscanner' de Chanel que detecta el tono de labios a la guía de tallas de Zara: avances (y tareas pendientes) de los probadores virtuales

Years ago several firms began to incorporate these tools in their physical establishments. This is, for example, the case of Zara, which in 2015 installed this technology in some of its stores, allowing customers to use an interactive screen to support their purchase process. A process to which new functions have also been added to the brand's app, where now you can not only find a size guide that distinguishes between some garments and others, but also adds our personalized measurements to guide you in finding the size ideal –also supported by its database on the purchases of its users–, among other functions.

In October 2020, the Zalando e-commerce platform absorbed the technology company Fision, specialized in three-dimensional body scanning, to incorporate its functions into virtual fitting rooms. The advantages? For the customer, greater satisfaction and a better shopping experience, since we will be able to see how a garment would fit us before purchasing it. For the company, fewer returns, by fine-tuning that testing process and not buying blindly. Stacia Carr, director of engineering at Zalando, pointed out that with this new project it seeks to reduce the problem of sizes when buying online as well as "create a feedback loop between brands and consumers designed to create consumer loyalty and, in the long run, term, reduce waste.

AR also has its place in makeup, Chanel has launched Lipscanner, an application developed by Chanel's CX Lab and the brand's Makeup Creation Studio. that allows the user to virtually test all the firm's lipsticks. The app is already available in the Apple Store and you only need to upload a photo (it's worth even a selfie that we can take with our own mobile) to be able to enjoy the interactive experience.

The future of virtual fitting rooms

The EY consulting firm has developed a new prototype of a virtual tailor during the quarantine, capable of recreating the client through a digital avatar, who will later be able to try on garments from the store of their choice without the need for a physical presence. To use this technology, the user will have to undergo a body scan for 40 seconds with specialized sensors, and then they can download their avatar on their mobile to take it with them. The commercial launch is expected to be well received considering the demand for the incorporation of new technologies by consumers. Javier Vello, responsible for the distribution and consumption sector for EY Med, states that "the acceptance of the chains is being very good, because it resolves barriers to use and facilitates comfort and safety".

On the other hand, a team from the Institute of Mathematics of the University of Barcelona (IMUB) in conjunction with the Computer Vision Center (CVC) developed CLOTH3D, a large-scale 3D synthetic data set focused on the virtual simulation of the behavior of tissues on various body shapes. The big problem with 3D scans is that it is difficult to generate faithful representations, due to how complicated it is to simulate the effect of the different garments on the human body. However, the tissue simulations present greater precision in the measurements. This tool – still in the study phase – will further improve the development of virtual fitting rooms, by guaranteeing greater fidelity and quality in the buyer's experience.

From Chanel's 'lipscanner' that detects lip tone to Zara's size guide: progress (and pending tasks) in virtual fitting rooms
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