BAN TEXT – RECLAIM VISUAL SEARCH!

On our minds this week: as the fashion industry becomes ever more visual (and virtual), is the age of text searching over? We look into the latest developments in retail tech, wearables and A.I.

 Fashion reality: Bored with the tedious typing of descriptions in Google’s search field? Now you can put on your new Oculus headset (just released in the U.K.) or some AR glasses to see supermodels walking the runway right in your living room. Martine Jarlgaard took a shot at the new format at this month’s London Fashion Week, inviting fashion buyers to see her pieces with help of Microsoft’s HoloLens. You could see the girls mooching around the room and showing off the new collection in all of its virtual glory. Maybe in future they’ll develop a function to use hand gestures to grab and maybe drop items into your virtual shopping basket (you heard it here first!). Buyers loved it, and it has the potential to offer remote fashion shows for industry professionals and consumers alike without anyone having to travel to the lovely but expensive West End. The democratisation of fashion begins here.

Instant gratification: Brands with less tech-telligence (or budget) can still use good old Instagram to drive the fashion crowd mad with desire. Data shows that the social media platform delivers high satisfaction through visual discovery and also attracts more shopping-minded visitors than Facebook. Despite interfering with the News Feed and only showing the users the ‘most popular’ posts, as well as getting a mixed reception for the introduction of Insta Stories, the app is growing fast in Europe. With about 15 million users in the U.K., their fashion-focused female fan base is co-creating the future of street fashion.

Another entry to the VR mirror market: Once your blogger-inspired shoppers have come to your website via Instagram, the problem becomes the fit of the clothes. Buffalo-based startup triMirror is testing whether people would want to create their own fashion avatar, including the exact modelling of their own body dimensions in order to visualise how garments would look on them, and even how they will move ‘in certain situations’. This area is already full of startup corpses; retailers haven’t been able to commit to the investment and sometimes it’s just easier to try the garment on if you’re in the store already! However, if it helps to minimise the hassle of returns for e-commerce then maybe triMirror is on to a winner.

Allo, allo! A.I. is undergoing a massive revolution and becoming a core tool for customer support bots. Late to the party, but with a good quality offer, is Google’s launch of their messaging app Allo – meant to compete with rival Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger. Allo requires a Google Account (of course), and is currently only available in English and therefore not quite ready to take on WhatsApp like Google hopes. Don’t worry though – its voice-activated assistant will be given more international tools soon.

Fit and fashionable: Autumn has sneaked up on us, so to avoid the temptation to slouch on the sofa in our PJs watching Narcos and snacking, we’re getting into a new fitness routine! Vera Wang and Tory Burch want to improve our style as well as physique, so they’ve launched collaborative designs with popular wearable Fitbit. Fabulous enough to be a stand-alone jewellery classic, but if it can multitask then that’s even better! Could wearables be coming of age?

Don’t miss the V&A’s new exhibit on the revolutionary 60s. With interactive and immersive displays, they show how much of today’s fashion has been influenced by the larger-than-life designers, artists and musicians of one of the most exciting and defining eras. Best £16 you’ll ever spend.