Foresight 06: Gucci's virtual garden + how Snap is taking on virtual try-on

A bi-weekly newsletter diving into the concepts, people and brands who are shaping the future of fashion, beauty and retail.


Welcome back to Foresight!

Looks like we’re back talking about virtual worlds…I’m sensing a trend. Gucci recently partnered with gaming platform, Roblox, to create the virtual Gucci Garden for a two-week experience. If you missed it, you can catch demos and reviews on YouTube. With Roblox’s successful IPO in March, we can expect to see more brands and experiences on the platform.

Snapchat’s recent AR features have the potential to position the company as a leader in AR and the brands who tap into this early will reap the benefits. If you haven’t checked out Snap’s public profiles, I highly recommend. Louis Vuitton is using the platforms features especially well. 

Lastly, I bought a new book that I’m so excited to get into. The Augmented Workforce: How Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, and 5G Will Impact Every Dollar You Make by Cathy Hackl (who’s been quoted a few times in this newsletter) is a tech futurist and leader in AR, VR and spatial computing. Review to come!

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IDEAS, INSIGHTS & FORWARD THINKING PERSPECTIVES

Gucci Garden: Roblox edition

Like the IRL version in Florence, the Gucci Garden on Roblox pays homage to Gucci campaigns through themed rooms while layering in features only possible in the metaverse. Visitors begin their experience by entering a virtual lobby where their avatars can preview, try on and purchase digital Gucci items. Avatars are transformed into blank, genderless, humanoid-like mannequins once entering themed spaces to allow for each avatar to absorb visual elements of each room as they progress through the experience. Colourful zig-zag lights might become a patterned sleeve. Other rooms pay homage to the party scenes of Gucci Cruise 2020 and the garden room, which IRL is capped by a ceiling; on Roblox, it’s open to the sky and surrounded by forest. Upon exiting, visitors can view their avatars’ canvas and other canvases, screenshot and share on social channels. The idea is that while everyone starts as the same blank canvas, the experience defines them, says Morgan Tucker, Roblox senior director of product for the social group. “This adds to a level of immersion that would match, if not exceed, what you see in the real world, and really pushes the limits of what the platform is capable of.”

Originally a gaming platform, Roblox is hopeful that with the latest developer tools and technology shown in the Gucci Garden, new audiences will come to the platform and encourage brands and developers to get involved making it an experience platform. With an estimated 3.4 billion gamers worldwide, the opportunity to engage with this group should be a major consideration for brands. Games have become a place to hang out, see friends and attend events. “As more people come together through shared experiences, the more important [becomes] their self-identity and ability to express themselves,” she says Roblox VP of brand partnerships Christina Wootton. The success of the experience? Aside from the US$4,000 sale of a digital bag, the Roblox community has mixed feelings. A number of YouTube reviews site impressive design, but the lack of gaming elements and cost of digital pieces (a simple unbranded balloon comes at a cost) seems to have users questioning what place Gucci has on the platform. In terms of bringing in new audiences (me!), I’ve successfully downloaded Roblox for the next branded experience. Is that a win for Roblox or Gucci?

How Snapchat is aiming to be a leader in AR and virtual try-on

Bringing a small part of the traditional retail experience to lockdowns, virtual try-on has given fashion and beauty brands some relief in the past year. From seeing how a pair of sunglasses might look on your face or testing a new makeup shade, these AR- and AI-enabled experiences are influencing purchasing decisions and addressing the $550 billion returns problem for businesses. As it stands right now, virtual try-on technology is quite basic and there’s no clear leader. Snapchat hopes to change that by introducing a range of new AR try-on experiences that add more to the smartphone shopping experience than ever before. The company believes shopping is more than a transaction and by having a more immersive, connected and emotional experience, the buyers confidence will increase and build longterm brand loyalty. Partnering with Farfetch and Prada to start, “Snap’s new machine learning tech will use ‘3D Body Mesh’ to replicate IRL fits while users try virtual clothes on via their cameras, as well as introduce a new cloth simulation machine learning algorithm to recreate the movement of fabrics.” With the launch of public profiles for businesses, brands can save content and create what could be a virtual storefront. 

The AR market was worth $3.5 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $198 billion in 2025. Brands like Dior have seen a 6.2x return on ad spend while utilizing the tech in their Snap promotions for shoe try-on and NYX Cosmetics has seen 60 million try-ons of their beauty experience in a single day through advertising AR try-on. It’s clear that engagement with AR tools drive purchase intent and big box brands aren’t sleeping on this. Walmart recently acquired virtual-try on company, Zeekit, to integrate into the company’s e-commerce. Once the tech goes live, customers can upload a photo of themselves or select a virtual model that best looks like them and then “try on” clothing on Walmart.com. As try-on technology continues to advance and e-commerce persists, virtual try-on will become an essential part of the consumer journey. For more, I’ll leave you with some consumer survey results I found particularly interesting.


WHAT I’M READING

Dapper Labs backs art hardware startup Infinite Objects

Sotheby’s opens a virtual gallery in Decentraland

Scientists look to capture clean energy from our clothing

Google develops AI tool that can help identify skin, hair and nail issues

London Fashion Week adds first digital RTW brand to roster

China starts large-scale testing of its internet of the future