With the thwarting schedule of fashion weeks, buyers among other industry experts inevitably miss a show or two. Ordre Showroom, an online wholesale showroom focused on the luxury category, has invested in virtual reality to provide buyers an opportunity to view collections from a digital front row.
And though fashion continues to be a touch-and-feel industry, Ordre is taking steps to provide virtual sampling, too. Here, Simon Lock, chief executive officer of Ordre discusses the decision to move into the VR space and how the digitization of the industry is affecting buyers.
WWD: What in the B2B segment of the fashion industry necessitated the development of VR for showrooms and samples?
Simon Lock: As part of any buying decision for apparel, movement, drape and fit are always important. Buyers can’t always attend live fashion shows or showrooms. Buyers often rely on conventional video footage of fashion shows. Particularly with fashion shows, the conventional point of view is from a video camera at the end of the runway primarily showing a front and back view. This is not the best view to access moving product.
The best front row position for buyers is actually halfway down the runway, which allows a buyer to follow the user to see a front, side and back view. This is where Ordre positions its 360-degree camera. Virtual reality allows a point of view from the best seat in the front row. As a model moves on the catwalk, a buyer can change their point of view through the Ordre VR headset to gain the best possible perspective and view of the clothes.
WWD: In a field that’s largely based on touch and feel, how do you foresee the VR functionality interacting with physical showrooms and fashion shows?
S.L.: Touch and feel is an important element in the purchasing decision, along with other criteria. Often when all other criteria have been satisfied, a wholesale purchase can be made with confidence. Many Millennials who are buyers have been making purchasing decisions in their personal lives for many years and now feel comfortable doing this in their professional capacity. However, Ordre does have plans to introduce newly developed touch-and-feel technology in the coming years. This will allow high-res scans for fabrications to be replicated physically through touch pads that would be connected to a desktop.
WWD: In your opinion, what designers are deploying emerging technologies well?
S.L.: From a designer/brands perspective most of their focus on technology is consumer facing. This includes augmented reality and technologies that have an impact at retail. Ordre is really one of the few companies globally that is focused on B2B. Many of the technologies introduced by Ordre in a B2B sense will flow through to B2C. There is a lot of interest currently for Ordre designers using our B2B technologies to incorporate these into retail. This includes 360-degree view images, touch screen and VR technologies.
WWD: Do you plan to roll out consumer-facing VR experiences?
S.L.: Our technologies and digital assets are already starting to be used by Ordre designers in their consumer marketing. Initially the most impactful will be the use of our 360-degree view images. Consumers — like professional buyers — much prefer to see every aspect of what they are buying, and not just at the most three different views, which is what is currently available.
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