GETTING DRESSED ONLINE — VIRTUALLY
Byline: Karyn Monget
NEW YORK — At first glance, the female figures on the computer screen look like cyber Stepford Wives.
In virtual reality — through a cutting-edge 3D application called C-Me — the figures can be shaped, coiffed and styled into whatever look a consumer wants, whether it’s a flawless, image-perfect figure, or a realistic simulation of a consumer’s actual measurements, including height, bra cup, and the size of a woman’s hips and waistline. The applications can also zero in on skin tone, hair color and eye color, in addition to customizing facial features such as the nose and the shape of the eyes.
The male representations have the clone-like quality of a Ken doll.
The concept, though, isn’t a game.
Yanir Farber, president of Tel Aviv-based Browzwear, and his brother Avihay Feld, were here this spring on a mission to sell their e-commerce concept to a number of U.S. retailers. They said they expected to launch it first in Europe — primarily Germany, Belgium and England — this fall.
Browzwear, which was founded in Israel in January by Farber and Feld, is being financed by Delta Galil Industries, a diversified apparel manufacturer that specializes in seamless products, and Dr. Yossi Vardi, an Israeli high tech guru.
The company has its sights set on becoming a leading provider of real-time personalized services to online retailers, including major click-and-mortar department stores and specialty chains, as well as catalogers and independent e-tail sites. The company’s signature product, C-Me, will provide consumers with a virtual fitting room based on a personal 3D figure called Avatar, which is a 3D model representation of the user’s image.
Online shoppers can visit an apparel e-tailer’s site to dress their virtual 3D image with items that have been merchandised by Browzwear. When someone decides to purchase an item, Browzwear will link the shopper to the e-tailer’s site, where the transaction can be completed.
The consumer can make her decision by rotating an Avatar figure dressed in that clothing, on a 3D form, to get a full-rounded view, and can zoom in to inspect a fabric’s texture. A consumer will also be able to determine the drapability of a fabric on petite, average and plus-size figures.
“The service will be free to consumers,” said Farber, noting the company has invested close to $1 million in the technology. “Retailers in the U.S. have been very interested. Some are even interested in investing in the company.”
Other than to say Browzwear will “make a commission” from participating retailers, Farber would not elaborate. He did say, however, that “It will be up to the retailers to push this idea.”
Interestingly, Feld said he did not believe the concept would take with a specialty retailer such as Victoria’s Secret.
“Victoria’s Secret deals with fantasy. Everybody wants to look sexy like their supermodels,” said Feld. He added, though, that the company will eventually develop an application for lingerie — most likely shapewear — this year. So far, apparel categories include men’s and women’s sportswear and ready-to-wear and swimwear. Children’s wear also is planned for next year.
“We won’t do lingerie until the third or fourth generation of this application,” said Feld. “When we do, a woman will literally be able to see how a dress will fit by wearing a certain shaper.”
Feld further noted that the concept is based on Israeli technology that was originally created for educational studies of “space and the universe. It showed [students] how to navigate in space and interact with the stars.”
Added Farber, “One of the most important aspects of this technology is the privacy we are offering. Nobody will be able to see a person as they are trying on clothes in their virtual fitting room.”
The technology also can aid shopping the international marketplace, Farber noted, saying, “If I liked some clothing at a retailer in New York, and I wanted my mother in Israel to see what the garments would look like on me, all I have to do is invite her to visit my virtual closet.”