WHEN VIRTUAL BECOMES REALITY

A 77% increase in virtual reality product demos at Las Vegas’ geek-fest CES shows us the shape of things to come in 2016. With our first [retail bytes] of 2016, we’re looking into the virtual takeover.

Game on: Fashion has gotten the memo that virtual is “the thing” – Louis Vuitton put a virtual model at the heart of their new campaign. Lightning, whose full-time job is being a hot pink haired warrior from Final Fantasy (by Square Enix), is leading the brand revamp, targeting a younger audience and paying homage to the virtual world of games. The tomboy heroine sports a more feminine look in the campaign than her usual broadsword brandishing outfits, but she’s still got the moves! Watch the video here.

The bionic woman: A ‘bionic’ model was seen at New York Fashion Week, when Rebekah Marine appeared on the catwalk, taking diversity in fashion a step further. She was born without the lower part of her right forearm and wears a Bebionic-designed prosthetic. Rebekah’s participation is starting to redefine the concept of a feminine body enhanced by advanced prosthetics, and preparing the ground for increased acceptance for mixed machine-body beauty.

Look into my eyes… Just as we were looking forward to increased diversity in fashion, an opposite trend is emerging for 2016 as a new outpatient eye surgery technique offers us all Jude Law-like piercing blue eyes in an afternoon. It turns out we ALL have blue eyes, but some of us have a second colour ‘covering’ the basic blue. The new procedure enables the surgeon to ‘suck out’ the covering colour covering the underlying blue colour. With the help of tech, will all boys end up looking like Jude Law-lookalikes?

Play ball: Oculus Rift has opened up pre-orders and now virtual reality company Vitruix.com offers multiplayer games. Who will design your virtual reality avatar? Will it be a job for fashion designers? Meanwhile, Samsung Gear is introducing a VR motion controller named Rink to help you play VR tennis or take part in a multiplayer mediaeval sword fight. Watch the video and start designing your bespoke VR costumes!

Do you speak hipster? Marks and Spencer has picked VR lingo as the comms method of choice for loft-living millennials. Their virtual reality pop-up showrooms let customers create their own selection of loft-ready chairs, sofas and lighting, unveiled as part of the new LOFT range from the High Street giant.   By bringing VR into smaller, more compact showrooms M&S is offering pop-up visitors a drag-and-drop way of putting together their ‘bespoke’ living room. Amy, a virtual avatar, sticks around in case you have a colour or texture dilemma. Nice. Question is, do we need to actually buy it for our homes or just have the virtual room furnished and open for business on some bohemian corner of virtual east London? Be careful what you wish for Mr M&S…