- Six Hundred Four, a new sneaker brand that offers limited edition pairs of shoes from commissioned art works, has opened an online virtual sneaker store based on its flagship in Vancouver, Canada, according to a press release.
- The project aims to merge the physical store — a mix of an art gallery and a shoe store — with virtual reality and e-commerce. Virtual shoppers can browse the flagship store online, viewing original artwork while adding shoes to an e-commerce shopping cart.
- Six Hundred Four described the online store as a virtual reality platform, though it emphasized that no headset is required. Instead, shoppers can tour a 3D version of the store via a screen, somewhat like wandering around a city block in Google Maps' "Street View."
Six Hundred Four has incorporated a brick-and-mortar store with the online experience about as completely as technology allows right now. The online store is very much the physical store.
That makes the virtual store portable for its highly mobile target demographic.And the mobile access of the store, in turn, allows for the elimination of the VR headset — which would get in the way of everyone accessing the store the same way.
"Typical VR experiences are limiting because they require a headset," James Lepp, founder of Six Hundred Four, said in the release. "You can't type with a headset, and frankly, most people don't even have one. We didn't want to have those constraints. Instead, our experience can be used anywhere, any time, on any device."
Technology has become part of the sneaker space, which has been growing rapidly of late. The footwear market grew 13% in 2017, but sports footwear grew 46%, according to data from Euromonitor International.
New tech efforts include Nike China's partnership with Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai to produce a three-minute game in a virtual world that allows customers to try out Nike's Epic React shoes on a treadmill in stores in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. Meanwhile, Adidas is using augmented reality to enhance the post-purchase experience of customers.
In Six Hundred Four's physical shop — the online store is a virtual replica in 3D — several pieces of art are displayed with sneakers below them with digital generated patterns based on the art created with specialized printers. After virtually browsing the store, and perhaps encountering an "Easter Egg" with a special discount, the online site enables shoppers to drill down for information about the store, the artists and sneakers.
More physical and VR galleries are planned, "but depending on where VR goes, maybe it will be more virtual galleries instead of physical ones," Lepp said in the release.