We are living in unprecedented times. The coronavirus outbreak started as a sanitary emergency but it quickly brought impact to social life and global economy. According to McKinsey, the pandemic is not only a health emergency of great proportion, it is also an imminent restructuring of the global economic order. We all know that crises can represent a strategic turning point for companies that manage to transform a difficult moment into a market opportunity. The current crisis is accelerating the move to digital: people are working from home, browsing and shopping online. And we must observe this movement attentively.
According to data from Bloomberg, Generation Z want products that are tailor made for them. This new generation of consumers has different purchase habits if compared with millennials. Instead of adventure, they want uniqueness. And it is in this consumers’ search for being unique that luxury brands are pointing their strategy to overcome the coronavirus crisis. But to understand the future challenges we need to go back to the past. At the beginning, all luxury products were made to order. And it is precisely to this model that the brands are now returning. This time, with a lot more technology. Companies and softwares that create customization, personalization and virtual experiences across digital are taking advantage of the opportunities the outbreak brought to them.
In a recent report, McKinsey revealed that “Gen Z consumers, customization is no longer a nice-to-have option but an expectation”. They want to show their personality and their purchasing power through a customized luxury product. That is why OC&C Strategy Consultants suggest that retailers focus on personalized services and goods in order to build a relationship with new generation consumers. In this scenario, 3D, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality appear as important tools with the power to reshape the fashion market. Especially at the present time, when thousands of people around the world are lockdown, invest in digital and give the consumer a great shopping experience without him having to leave home is an innovative way to reinvent the industry in times of crisis.
The 3D fashion platforms are driving the industry forward
To better understand this new realities, we spoke with Paolo Civardi, Chief Officer of the Milanese 3D fashion company, Sense – immaterial reality. He defines this crisis, in his words, “as a turning point for the fashion system this is the right moment to redefine business models and build a more sustainable future for the fashion industry. We must review the complete Product Life Cycle to be more Immaterial, starting from Product ideation passing through Immaterial Prototyping until Sales and Marketing, creating new kinds of communication experience”.
Moreover, due the coronavirus pandemic, the customer shopping experience is different: now it is 100 per cent online. Thousands of people around the world are lockdown, browsing and shopping online. In this scenario, Paolo believes that the immaterial touch provided by hyperrealistic VR, AR and 3D products can improve consumers’ e-commerce experience. “Sense, for example, is creating Immaterial Collection to extend the shopping experience starting from the choice of fabric; this fabric is more than real thanks the virtual simulation of physical behavior joined with realistic light and shadows effect. . A real shopping experience in a COVID era”, says him.
Screenwear is the new streetwear
The Fabricant is a digital house based in Amsterdam. They produce hyper-realistic digital fashion experiences. We talked to its founder, Kerry Murphy, to get insights about the international scenario for 3D fashion platforms. He explains that fashion has always been about self-expression. But in era of quarantine and social distancing, “the physical body asks for comfort, while the digital identity wants freedom of expression. More than ever, screenwear is becoming the new streetwear”, explains him.
As flag-bearers for ‘feeling the fear but doing it anyway’, Kerry says The Fabricant practices what they preach. That is why they launched a Beta test of LEELA, a 3D digital fashion platform that could revolutionise the experience of wearing clothes. The test runs until May 3rd and all you have to do is type digital.fashion in your mobile phone or web browser to begin the journey in the non-physical world of digital fashion. “Well, to be honest, it was scary. LEELA needs more development and we know it. But we feel this is time for being bold, for providing solutions that answer to the new set of values and dynamics being nurtured by society in these unsettling times”, completed Kerry.