Editor's pick film technology

Virtual reality hits #LFW, River Island shoppers given access next

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Something innovative tied to fashion week was, for once, truly applicable to the everyday consumer at Somerset House yesterday.

River Island unveiled a virtual reality film created with designer Jean-Pierre Braganza using Google Cardboard. This makeshift headset (created out of, you guessed it, cardboard) can essentially be built by anyone. All it then needs is a smartphone slotted into the front of it and an app downloaded to showcase the content.

For River Island shoppers from tomorrow, however, any item purchased from the Design Forum Jean-Pierre Braganza collaboration collection, will also arrive with a flat-packed version of Google Cardboard included, ready to build themselves.

As Mary McClenahan, marketing manager at the retailer told us during the press launch: “This was about making technology accessible to a wider market. It’s a bit of fun really, and fashion should be fun.”

She said the aim was to test the boundaries of technology, but do so in a way that made sense for the “tech-savvy younger generation”. Downloading an app is no longer a barrier to content for consumers, making this sort of experience all the more relevant to them, she explained.

The content in question, sees the user able to direct a Kingfisher into a futuristic mechanical structure where a model wearing the new collection is to be found. Once she’s located, an augmented reality experience is also offered; providing a fluttering image of the Kingfisher atop of the user’s existing, real-world surroundings. They’re encouraged to snap an image (the Kingfisher hovering on a shoulder or over a glass, in our case) and then share it with their social following.

A Google representative said this was a very early version of what virtual reality is likely to become. The almost ‘analogue’ nature of Cardboard is, after all, a relatively primitive, albeit accessible, way to experience it. Over the next 12 months we’ll see significant inroads made into much more immersive and interactive experiences, he said, with the open-source setup of the technology making experimentation all the more possible.

VR in general is trending at fashion weeks so far this season, with Rebecca Minkoff and Tommy Hilfiger both having captured their A/W 15/16 shows in 360-degrees, ready for future release. With experiential marketing as the focus, there’s enormous opportunity for brands to make serious inroads with VR as a consumer engagement ploy up ahead.

Check out some of our pictures and a video from the Jean-Pierre Braganza experience below.

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By Rachel Arthur

Rachel Arthur is Editor-in-Chief of Current Daily, the leading news source for fashion, retail and innovation, and the co-host of its weekly Innovators podcast. She otherwise serves as Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Current Global, a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion luxury and retail. By background she is an award-winning business journalist and consultant, contributing to titles including Wired, Forbes and Business of Fashion.

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