The Future of the Dressing Room. Hint: It Isn’t a Room.

How Technology is Transforming Dressing Rooms

“The ability to put on an article of clothing and then be able to experience you wearing that article of clothing in an environment that replicates where you would actually wear it I think is very very important.”

The dressing room is an institution. It has long served customers as the best way to make sure an item fits before buying, often with the help of knowledgeable assistants (and sometimes cake and champagne). But the process of stockpiling and trying on multiple sizes and styles is inconvenient. And the variance in mirrors, lighting, and space available can amount to an unsatisfying experience—one that doesn’t give customers the authentic test drive they deserve. Creating an environment where clothes and people meet to reflect a more everyday, real-life reality is no small challenge. It’s also a huge opportunity to improve the customer experience through technological innovation.

How can technology relieve the inconvenience of trying on clothes?

Retailers are beginning to experiment with not only enhancing the IRL fitting room but providing digital simulations so customers can work at their own pace, on their own terms, in their chosen environment:

“The ability to put on an article of clothing and then be able to experience you wearing that article of clothing in an environment that replicates where you would actually wear it I think is very very important. I think being able to have more targeted data around the user itself will allow the user and the store to make sure that that article of clothing fits appropriately. And so I think you're going to start to see a lot of technology integrated into that experience, with the ultimate intention of making that purchase more optimal and enjoyable for the end user.”Alex Klokus, CEO, Futurism

On November 11th, 2017—a day annually observed as “Singles Day” in China that tends to eclipse the combined sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday—Alibaba hit a whopping $25.3 billion in gross merchandise volume in 24 hours. In partnership with several large retailers, they approached the day with a suite of different new technologies. Included among these was a “Virtual Fitting Room” accessed through their Taobao/Tmall app. After uploading a photo of themselves as well as height/weight info, customers could virtually try on different items and see how they looked right on their phone screen. 

How are retailers transforming  these spaces with virtual upgrades?   

San Francisco innovator Oak Labs has gone so far as to create an in-store mirror that digitally houses clothing options. Users can request different colors and styles from assistants, get recommendations, alter lighting settings to mimic different environments and even text video of their fitting to a smartphone.  

As AI and AR integrate ever further with physical environments, the potential to turn any space into a dynamic, adaptable fitting room skyrockets. Intuitive lighting adjustments, simulated indoor/outdoor spaces to represent different clothing use cases...these things are coming. So are broader implications for storage, inventory, and the supply chain. When storage is largely virtual, existing in a “cloud shelf” that consumers access through dressing room mirrors or digital kiosks, the need to overstock physical inventory disappears. That’s just the beginning.     

The future of dressing rooms is the removal of all barriers.

While the physical walls may stick around, the obstacles that keep customers from truly understanding which clothes fit them best are coming down. And that’s not just happier people, it’s better business. 

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Updated Jan 10, 2019 | Originally published April 2018


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