The big-box retailer revealed plans Thursday to add the Israel-based Zeekit, a virtual fitting room platform, to its portfolio for an undisclosed amount. The platform allows shoppers to virtually try on clothes from Walmart’s growing list of fashion brands.
“In an increasingly online-driven category, customers not only want variety in styles, but also an inspiring and personalized digital experience that makes shopping for apparel easy, fun and social,” Denise Incandela, executive vice president of apparel and private brands at Walmart U.S., wrote in a blog post on the Walmart website. “Virtual try-on is a game-changer and solves what has historically been one of the most difficult things to replicate online — understanding fit and how an item will actually look on you.
“Given its scalability, we believe Zeekit’s technology can also be used to create other fashion experiences, including the ability to build the world’s largest virtual closet and mix and match clothing seamlessly,” she continued. “[Consumers] can even share their virtual outfits with friends for a second opinion. This brings an inclusive and social experience to digital shopping.”
To use the platform, shoppers can go to walmart.com and upload a photo of themselves to virtually try on different outfits. They can also select the height, shape and skin tone of the model closest to their own to see how different clothing options look on various body types. There’s no date yet as to when the platform will be available to Walmart shoppers, according to a company representative.
“Right now, we’re focused on welcoming the Zeekit team to Walmart and providing them a smooth transition,” the representative said.
Through a combination of acquisitions, high-profile collaborations and its own creative push, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer has built up a roster of private label brands and elevated lines in recent years, including Time and Tru, Bonobos, Eloquii Elements, Jeans by Sofía Vergara and the Free Assembly line it launched in September. There’s also a growing list of national brands, including Free People, Champion and Levi Strauss, that can be found at Walmart and its related e-commerce shop.
In January, the retailer introduced World Rugby Hall of Famer Phaidra Knight’s PSK Collective activewear line launched on walmart.com. The company also spent $3 billion-plus to buy Jet.com in 2016 in an effort to ramp up its online business, which includes fashion products, such as apparel and accessories. It has since shuttered Jet although used a lot of Jet’s expertise to boost its own e-commerce.
But perhaps one of the biggest — and most recent — steps to bolstering Walmart’s apparel offering was elevating Incandela — the luxury fashion veteran whose resume includes leadership roles at Saks Fifth Avenue, Ralph Lauren Corp. and footwear brand Aerosoles — to oversee Walmart’s apparel brands last February. The following month the retailer tapped designer Brandon Maxwell as creative director of its exclusive brands Free Assembly and Scoop.
Still, the Zeekit acquisition comes amid spiraling conflict in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians. Walmart would not comment on the conflict, except to say that the Israeli-based company’s three founders — chief executive officer Yael Vizel, chief technology officer Alon Kristal, and vice president of research and development Nir Appleboim — will remain in Israel, joining the Walmart Global Tech and fashion teams.
“They will be dedicated to Zeekit and the apparel driven experience,” a Walmart representative said.