Is Augmented Reality the future of fashion?

Video and words by Sam Leader, ITV News' Here's The Story

It's a dilemma many of us are faced with - it looks good on the model in the picture, but will it look good on me?

Augmented reality takes some of the stress out of that decision by combining tech with fashion and allowing you to try on that purchase before you actually take the plunge.From clothing and shoes to accessories and make-up, augmented reality items give you the luxury of try before you buy.

There's even the option of purchasing digital garments and posting a photo of yourself wearing the item, cutting out the delivery process altogether.

What is AR fashion?AR fashion or augmented reality clothing is a form of digital graphic that uses technology to apply artwork to a photo or video.

It allows the user to virtually try on clothing using technology that adapts the artwork to your body movements, and then shows an image of how you'd look in real time.

Snap AR uses augmented reality technology to allow users to try on products or outfits virtually

The social media app Snapchat is just one of the companies that uses AR technology. They have over 250 million people engaging with AR everyday, with an average of six billion AR plays a day.

Users can choose from various 'lenses' that offer you a glimpse into how an item would look.

They launched a new feature on Snapchat called ‘Dress Up’, that compiles AR fashion and try-on's from creators, retailers, and fashion brands.

Creators and brands use the app to show users what items might look like before they make a purchase. Some artists have even hosted full-blown fashion shows where the clothing is seen entirely through the lens of a phone.

What are the benefits of augmented reality in the fashion industry?

By using AR before making a purchase, the user gets a feel of what an outfit or product looks like without physically having it in front of them.

The rise of online shopping which particularly increased during the pandemic means items are returned more frequently which in turn has an impact on the environment.

Rajni Jacques, Global head of Fashion and Beauty at Snapchat says "66% of shoppers who use AR are less likely to return the purchase".

"So AR fashion can be seen as reducing someone's carbon footprint."

Jacques adds that "the consumer gets to actually play and engage with the brand" and as a result "Snap AR makes online shopping fun and for brands it's impactful just because it's personalised".

Who is using AR technology in the fashion industry?

Snapchat collab with brands on augmented reality projects that allow users to make purchases directly from the Snapchat platform and offers an experience that involves more interaction with the products themselves.

Snap recently worked with Vogue to "enhance" physical fashion items with the use of lenses and augmented reality designs.

Rajni gives her predictions on the future of AR for Snap

In the digital age some artists are even offering digital garments where users can share photos of themselves with perfectly fitted clothing items, some of which are beyond the realms of possibility.

Doddz, an augmented reality creator, hosted the first all-AR runway show in the UK during London Fashion Week, debuting his Defy collection.

The fashion show started as an education about the environmental impact of fashion and how digital garments can be a sustainable option for conscious buyers.

The show used Snapchat body tracking to show the audience how the clothes would look using augmented reality.

"The audience held their phone up and then using body tracking on Snapchat, the clothes [...] were applied to the models as they walked around.""People care about what they look like on social media. People are buying clothes, wearing them once, getting the photo, posting it, and then returning the item and that's not a good customer experience."

"The customer can buy [AR clothes] that literally can be anything, they don't have to return them. [...] There's a sustainability element because it's obviously more environmentally friendly, and then they can still have this great picture to post on social media and the brand's happy as well because they don't have to deal with the returns."

Augmented reality creator Doddz uses Snap AR to show his collection of digital garments

What is holding AR fashion back?

If you've used any AR filter across social apps, from the cry face to the cartoon filter, you'll know that it can be glitchy.

As the technology tracks the body or face movements users notice the items or lenses glitching as the tech tries to update itself in real time.

Doddz adds that the tech isn't entirely there yet "but the tech is getting better, the processing speeds are getting better. So it can do all those calculations quicker."

"The Internet speeds are going to get quicker, which allow you to maybe have more garments or bigger file sizes. Bigger file sizes means that you can look more realistic."

"It's pretty impressive what it can do right now."

Snapchat recently worked with Vogue to bring physical fashion garments to life Credit: Vogue x Snapchat

Rajni at Snap said "every day is different, there are new finds, new things that are happening, engineers creating new things. So what something looks like on Monday might not be what it is going to look like in a month from now.""I think you're going to see more brands using AR because in a way, they kind of want to future proof their own brand, whether it's using AR or even digital goods or digital fashion."