For a long time, the promised lands of virtual reality remained the territory of early adopters, technological innovators and advanced gamers. However, little by little a new party has been encroaching onto the playing field, eager to tap into the immerse sway of virtual reality, namely fashion retailers.
Although Tommy Hilfiger may not be the first brand you think of when someone mentions digital innovation, they have become the first mainstream brand to introduce virtual reality in-store, in the hopes of the using the technological medium as a new channel for sales. (v-commerce anyone?) In order to capitalize on the pulling power of VR, Tommy Hilfiger introduced a number of Samsung GearVR headsets in its Fifth Avenue store in New York, which offer viewers a three-dimensional, front-row view of the brand's Autumn/Winter' 15 show, held at the city's Park Avenue Armoury earlier this year.
"Through virtual reality, we’re now able to bring our one-of-a-kind fashion show to the retail setting," said Tommy Hilfiger. "From the incredible set and music to exclusive backstage moments, consumers will be able to watch the clothes move and see the collection in the original show environment – it’s a compelling and interesting elevation of the traditional shopping experience." The VR experience allows viewers a front-row experience of the show, as well as glimpses of the shows backstage shenanigans, something which most of the shows attendees are unable to enjoy.
In order to obtain a smooth 360 degree film of its show, Tommy Hilfiger teamed up with Amsterdam based start-up WeMakeVR, who captured the show using its WeMakeVR-Falcon, a proprietary camera with 14 lenses which film both vertically and horizontally. "Our special virtual reality cameras, combined with Tommy Hilfiger’s creative vision of the Fall ’15 Hilfiger Collection fashion show, resulted in an experience that goes beyond that of VIP guests," said Avinash Changa, Founder and CEO of WeMakeVR.
Tommy Hilfiger's introduction of VR in stores is said to be part of the brand's mission to elevate the traditional brick and mortar shopping experience through digital innovation whilst increasing opportunities for social engagement with is customers. "We are driven by a vision to exceed consumer expectations, inspire them, and offer retail experiences they never thought possible," explained Daniel Grieder, CEO of Tommy Hilfiger. "Through cutting-edge virtual reality technology, we can invite shoppers to experience the Hilfiger Collection fashion show from a front row seat."
"We’re using virtual reality to open the doors to a unique part of our world, directly connecting the consumers in our retail space with one of our largest brand events each season." Following the VR launch on Tuesday, Tommy Hilfiger will roll out its VR experience to selected Tommy Hilfiger locations in international cities such as London, Paris, Milan, Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Florence, Zurich and Moscow. The VR installations will be strategically placed in stores alongside an area which reflects the 'American football' theme of the show.
"When we presented our technology and our vision to Daniel Grieder, he instantly recognised the potential of our collaboration," added Changa."He understood WeMakeVR is not just about the technology, but about applying it in a way that adds value beyond the initial wow-factor. It’s a pleasure to work with Daniel and his team, WeMakeVR and Tommy believe VR will be a great tool for the fashion industry."