Online shopping is my favorite way to shop. The thrill of browsing through a wide selection while still wearing pajamas is unbeatable, and the anticipation of receiving your order at home feels like Christmas morning. Even though size charts and quizzes can be found online, it is still difficult to find the right fit. This forced me to make a horrible journey to the post office to return my packages. The greatest benefit of IRL shopping is undoubtedly what you can learn in a physical dressing room. Developers are working hard to replicate that experience for online shopping.
I was interested in how feasible a virtual dressing room might be. I reached out to TRAI for a virtual fitting room where brands and retailers can upload garments and have customers try them on using avatars that are based on their body measurements. In3D, TRAI’s creator, has teamed up with Replicant to make this technology available to retailers like PUMA. However, the clothes you can try on are not comparable to IRL clothing. The digital tokens you get for your money with TRAI can be used only online. This made me a little hesitant about entering the dressing room. These clothes could be very meaningful to me, even if they were never worn.
First, I downloaded the in3D app (available on Android) and then created my avatar. Next, I had to dress up in form-fitting clothing. I chose a pair bike shorts and tight-fitting T shirt. The app guided me through the scanning process. I had to walk in circles and front to back to give it a better view of my body. The full-range scan was far more sci-fi-y than I expected, and I felt a bit scared. After just a few minutes, my avatar was ready for me to test things on.
I was compelled to test out looks in the digital dressing area. I put on a green croptop with huge ruffles that looked like freshly-picked lettuce. I tried metallic silver jeans and a Y2K jumpsuit. A surreal pillow “top”, with an actual pillow helmet, made my avatar appear like it had been vacuum sealed. Although I liked a few dresses, a flowing frock with floral embellishments was my favorite – I didn’t feel the need to spend any of my money on these trends either online or in person.
My favorite online retailers would have a digital dressing room that was photorealistic and I could try the garments before I bought them. This is a great idea for 2021 but it’s brought to you by IRL shops. The clothes are not made by TRAI or Replicant. They are intended to be worn digitally and purchased. They are meant to be worn in digital photos.
The benefits of digital fitting rooms are obvious. In an industry that is plagued by overconsumption, mass production, digitizing the experience can help retailers reduce the number of returns they have to account for. The beauty industry already uses this model, with stores such as Sephora and MAC offering customers online options to test out everything from foundation colors to lipsticks before placing their orders.
“Digital clothing allows consumers to live out their fast fashion fantasies within an environment that is much more sustainable given the traditional industry’s existence of overproduction and overconsumption,” said Replicant founder Regina Turbina in a press release. “The industry contributes 8-10% of total greenhouse gas emissions, and produces more products than it needs to. According to the EPA, 17 million tons of textiles were produced in 2018, with 11 million going to landfills. Replicant hopes that it can help reduce these numbers.”
Although I enjoyed being a Pillow Person, I am still an old-fashioned gal and I don’t yet have the technology to create an all-digital wardrobe. If technology can be made to allow us to order clothes online and enjoy them in person, then I may one day walk the streets with a pillow on top of my head. It will be a while before I can do that.