For the longest time now, fashion consulting has been specific to the wealthy and celebrities. I strongly believe that it is now time to bring personalized fashion design and consultation to the mass market at little or no cost. I have been entertaining an idea, a use case of the IoT for the fashion industry, for more than one year now. I believe the end-to-end ecosystem is now ready for the implementation of the solution, which could disrupt the fashion industry and globalize it even further.
It is well known to fashion consultants that if you have short neck, you should not wear polos or high round necklines, and if you have long neck, you may wear turtleneck or high collar jackets. Many more hints and tips like this exist. All fashion tips and hints are provided based on body proportions, and of course excellently-tailored when combined with the demographic (age, social status, profession, culture) information and the personality of the individual. So far, this luxury service of fashion consultation and tailored design has been exclusive to the upper class and elite. Well, not any longer with an end-to-end IoT solution.
Imagine entering a digital booth, equipped with sensors, in the form of mirrors, sensor tapes, light, waves or other technology, where a digital profile of you (your exact 3D avatar twin) will be generated. Now imagine a world of fashion and clothing retailers where the fashion designers are sitting on the top layer, designing styles for different body proportions, and an algorithm that (based on entries from professional fashion designers) matches the best style across all clothing items (including the best underwear, corset, girdle, bra, or other item, as well as the shoe, accessories and even the best color of lipstick or rouge) for the avatar of the customer, all in one shot, and within the price range that the customer selects. Also if the customer choses to share his or her age, profession, and family income level (or even better, share a LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social media profile), the style would be more tailored to that customer, apt to his or her social status, and personal taste. I bet that shopping for bathing suits will be much easier and less arduous through this kind of solution, especially for ladies with lots of curves.
In this new world of fashion, competition and value creation will shift toward who has the best fashion advice for the shoppers. Cost saving will be huge for retailers, as people will not need to line up in front of the fitting rooms, and fewer salespeople will be required in the stores. Returns, refunds, and exchanges will decrease as items are better tailored to customers.
Globalization will be possible at much less cost and in much more efficient ways. No brick-and-mortar store will be required in the area. People will just shop using their avatars, and will receive the clothes that are recommended to them by top-level professional fashion consultants regardless of where on the planet they live.
On the other hand, fashion designers, clothing manufacturers, and retailers will gather more and more information in their databases to gain much better understanding of their customers’ profiles, improve their designs, focus their marketing strategies more effectively, and cater to their customers’ needs in a more personalized way.
People in general will be much more fashionable and good looking, while they spend less time and money on their shopping. Imagine a working mom of two kids; the gift of time and fashion would be invaluable to her. Add to it the impartial advice from a professional fashion designer, instead of retail salespeople thinking of their sales percentage more than anything else. Shoppers will trust the advice, brand, and their manufacturer more, which will in turn add to the reputation of the brand and customer loyalty.
Other excellent use cases will be shopping for families, friends, and seniors. Their avatars will be generated once (may be once every two to three years), shared with friends and families (if they wish), and always available if people go shopping for them. This will be useful if you are visiting someone (parents, grandparents, children, or friends) in a different city and would like to purchase clothes as gifts.
Another opportunity is offering the service in the Middle East, where people are rich but for cultural or religious reasons, women do not feel comfortable going out shopping or changing in fitting rooms, especially for undergarments.
But that’s not all. 3D avatars can be uploaded for fitness and medical advice. Notification can be sent to individuals if their posture is changing over time, or is an indication of a health issue. Another use case would be in dating, where people’s 3D avatars can be added in their profiles, of course upon their permission and authorization.
Let’s go one step further and imagine how convenient the solution would become if the 3D avatar could be generated through an application on a gaming console, digital cameras, or a digital mirror hanging in your bedroom. People may get naked in the privacy of their homes instead of a booth in the shopping mall or a retail store, stand (or turn) in front of their gaming console (or use any other sensor) to generate their 3D avatar, upload it, choose what kind of clothes they are looking for, and wait for the best styles and size to be recommended for them. You might be able to even try the recommended items on in the magic mirror (before holograms become available to the mass market) and check how they look on you before you purchase, or ask for alteration if you prefer shorter skirts. You might even pair the mirror with 3D printers (already available for making clothes) and make your own clothes at home, based on the recommended designs of professional fashion experts. You are no longer purchasing clothes, but fashion.
Kataneh Emami is a blogger and consultant.
Edited by Ken Briodagh