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NEW YORK — Xcel Brands Inc., which acquired the Isaac Mizrahi brand last September for $31.5 million, is an early adopter of augmented reality technology for the fashion crowd.
The technology is part of the new Isaacmizrahinewyork app. While the app allows users to access Isaac Mizrahi’s Web site, embedded in the app is the augmented platform that is activated by so-called “triggers” that take users from the physical image — whether it’s the hangtag, an Isaac Mizrahi logo used in print ads or an insert in every footwear box — to a virtual world that initially will be comprised of Mizrahi video clips.
Xcel is using the Aurasma platform, which was created by Autonomy Corp., to merge the physical and virtual worlds on mobile devices. Acquired by Hewlett Packard in October 2011, there are 4 million users of the application and 400 apps using the platform. The platform was first used in the entertainment industry for the J.J. Abrams film “Super 8.”
Robert D’Loren, chief executive officer of Xcel, shied away from Quick Response codes, which he referred to as “old technology.” Instead, D’Loren said he looked to the entertainment industry for what’s new because the sector is “always on the cutting edge” of the next big technological advancement.
In the current image recognition format, the augmented platform recognizes a current visual or image from a device’s camera and merges it with a programmed interactive visual component that essentially brings 2-D content to life. In D’Loren’s view of the future of image recognition, Mizrahi brand loyalists will be “recognized” as soon as they enter a store and technology can then target the marketing messages unique to that customer based on past purchasing behavior.
While that technology is further down the road, users of the current Mizrahi app are taken to the brand’s site, which furthers what D’Loren champions as a true omnichannel retail strategy component relying on interactive television — the fourth screen — to complete the marketing circle using social as the final hub to foster sales.
“Most companies have three screens — the smartphone, online and brick-and-mortar stores. For us, television is another screen that allows us to engage the consumer through social media,” he said.
Initially, content for the brand will change each season, but is expected to increase over time for both its frequency of messages and points of contact.
“Our goal is to have a rich body of content out there for our customers to engage with the brand. [That can be] both pre-sale and post-sale. The post-sale level is more about our thanking the customer for buying our product,” said D’Loren.
The difference between the content on the Web site and the app is time: clips via the app are for durations of no more than 30 to 40 seconds, while those online run considerably longer and are measured in minutes.
“The challenge when adopting the new technologies is to think about ‘Whom am I going to compete with?’ and “How long should [the clips] be?’” the ceo said.
Those questions led to a decision that the Mizrahi site not have an e-commerce component so it doesn’t compete with its retail partners, although consumers can find out on the site where to go to buy Mizrahi-branded merchandise.