Gap, Inc. is testing a smartphone application that will let customers try on clothes virtually and remotely through body type avatars, according to reports from CES 2017.
The DressingRoom app, which the apparel retailer describes as an augmented reality solution, allows shoppers to overlay different clothes and outfits to see how they look from a variety of angles before making a buying decision. In this case, the choices are limited to five pre-determined body types, rather than the actual photo of the potential buyer.
Bloomberg notes that DressingRoom will be available this month for Lenovo's Phab2 Pro and Asus' ZenFone AR, two smartphone models that use Google's Tango augmented reality technology.
We are not trying to be augmented reality police (although, wow, that sounds like a cool job), but defining this app as augmented reality is sort of a stretch. Some AR apps we've seen, like Modiface's lipstick chatbot, use a shopper's personal uploaded image for their virtual try-on capabilities, whereas the Gap DressingRoom app relies on a fairly limited number of body types. That said, it's probably much easier to use a given shopper's facial image in an AR beauty app than using a full-body image.
However you want to define it, DressingRoom should give online shoppers a better sense of how Gap clothing might look on them, which is more information than they often have at their disposal when ordering clothes online just by picking the appropriate size. Still, the body type avatars are going to be useful primarily for people who feel they truly fit one of the five pre-determined types.
So, the jury is still out on how valuable an app this will be for the retailer, but it's still an overall positive move by Gap to enable it. The retailer just wrapped up a difficult year, with ongoing financial disappointments and a rather bleak comment by CEO Art Peck that there are no compelling fashion trends giving the company a viable strategic direction. Clearly, Gap needs to do something to liven up its sales efforts, particularly relating to how customers can shop its clothes online.
2016 was a year in which we saw several retailers experiment with AR and virtual reality applications as tools for improving customer experiences and driving sales. Gap's DressingRoom is not exactly at the forefront of this trend, but at this point, anything is worth a try. If it sees some usage, perhaps the retailer can look at ways to improve it and make it more personalized, either by increasing the number of body types, or by allowing shoppers to upload their own images and other details.