Augmented reality is revolutionizing the future of fashion, blending retail’s potential in physical and digital spaces. In September, Wunderman Thompson Intelligence visited an AR fashion popup in New York City hosted by AR-fashion platform ZERO10 in collaboration with Crosby Studios, where customers could try on virtual clothes and styles as they would physical clothing in a digitally-enhanced space.

After visiting the popup, we spoke with George Yashin, the co-founder and CEO of ZERO10. With over 15 years of experience in fashion, tech, visual arts, and product design fields, Yashin speaks to the intention behind the experience and what the future of AR retail and fashion might look like.

Why did ZERO10 decide to host a physical space for this digital clothing line?

The future of fashion is already here and now. That’s our main concept and that’s what we showcase through all our projects and collaborations. Digital fashion can be seen all around us and it’s rapidly entering our everyday lives: in concept stores, on mobile phones, on catwalks, and on social media. It’s not limited to Web3 or the virtual world.

Our pop-up space with Crosby Studios brought both realities together and became the first touchpoint of the digital fashion world for many visitors. I believe that through these examples and projects, the technology can be shown to brands everywhere.

A room with digital inspired designs: a black and white checkered ceiling with light shining through, a green digital/cube patterned wallpaper lines the walls. A green, white, and black cube-patterned cushioned bench lines three walls above a green floor.
The ZERO10 x Crosby Studios popup, main room. Courtesy of ZERO10.

What designs or components were most important to ZERO10 when creating the physical popup?

We wanted to focus on the technology and the design but keep the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. The space didn’t contain any traditional retail attributes such as hangers, counters, and physical items. Instead, visitors had a chance to try on physical items through augmented reality as a part of the familiar routine.

What has the response been to the experience?

People loved the idea of trying on virtual items in a pop-up store, which helped them get familiar with the technology. We had over 2,000 visitors over the course of two weeks. Looking at the app performance, we can also say that people were more likely to experience the technology as a part of the physical experience rather than just [through the] app: 4.3x better conversion to saving content, 4x better conversion to sharing, and 4x more photos taken per user.

AR is still very new to a mass audience, and most of the users are not familiar with the virtual fitting experience. Bringing the technology and the whole process of the virtual fitting into a physical store helped shoppers to try it in an easy and engaging way.

What was the inspiration behind the digital clothing released for the popup?

A five-piece virtual collection was designed by Crosby Studios, who also conceptualized the interior design. Harry Nuriev, founder of Crosby Studios, was inspired by the idea of marrying virtual reality and elements of the digital realm with the physical world. The collection was an integral part of the whole concept and it was important for us to make it available only “in-store” for the duration of the pop-up to provide an exclusive experience for visitors.

My background in fashion helped me see all the problems in the industry, one of which is the mass production of physical clothing. From the beginning, we started thinking about avoiding the necessity of making material clothes while keeping their visual aesthetic. People often use clothes as a means of personal expression, and for that, “clothing” doesn’t need to be material.

A black woman wearing a green shirtdress holds her phone up to a mirror. In her phone screen, she tries on a white digitally rendered dress.
A woman tries on a piece from ZERO10's virtual collection through the AR app on her phone in a popup changing room.

What is the future of AR design, and of AR clothing? How will it change the world of retail?

With a wider adoption of AR technology by the fashion industry, it will become more sustainable and more interactive. For instance, our AR Mirror provides a more interactive experience for customers who are already accustomed to buying online. Getting back to offline stores, shoppers—including gen-Z customers—are looking for a new immersive experience that AR provides.

This solution also can bring more sustainability in the fashion industry. The ZERO10 AR Mirror, whether designed for a storefront or integrated in-store, can help sell items that are not stocked in-store, but available for preorder. Instead of producing more clothing, people can try its virtual prototypes through augmented reality.

How is digital design in the metaverse impacting visual trends?

I think the ZERO10 x Crosby Studios pop-up store is a good showcase of it. The space was inspired by a 90s video game aesthetic, and linking the metaverse with the physical world was intentionally incorporated into the design of the pop-up. People loved the way it looked, as the space resembled a virtual gaming aesthetic. Bringing this whole idea into a physical world made the AR technology and metaverse look more realistic. As these two realities are blending more and more, the visual trends will also merge.

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