Fashion Week's new fling? Augmented reality comes into focus

No real wearables in sight but designers are playing with AR and VR
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What with the Apple Watch selling and selling, the fashion world seems to have moved on from its super high-end, luxe wearable tech concepts of the past three or four years.

Instead, designers at New York and London fashion weeks have been turning to virtual and - particularly - augmented reality to showcase their A/W18 collections. Plus we saw a few experiments with rating looks from the front row and even an appearance by Amazon's style assistant connected camera, the Echo Look.

Read next: The smart clothing labs fashioning the future

Still to come on the schedule: Milan and Paris - there's historically more chance of tech experiments from the French, but, to be honest, every season is different.

The augmented reality fashion show

In London, Steven Tai's LiveCGX presentation at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office got a next-gen AR treatment thanks to a collaboration between the London College of Fashion's Innovation Agency and ILMxLAB (Lucasfilm's immersive entertainment hub).

The teams recreated an AR-enhanced street in China as the backdrop for the Macau-inspired collection. The real trick? One of the models was in fact a digital avatar, switching between two digitally reproduced looks, whose movements were based on motion capture.

Read this: Augmented reality explained

What's especially impressive about this - as you can see from the highlights video above - is that the digital effects were being applied in real time based on the live, improvisational performance of the Mo-cap actor. Beyond being a very cool presentation of designer garms, ILMxLAB says that this LiveCGX tech could give us "a glimpse into the future where garments have both physical and digital designs, worn in perfect coordination."

Chanel's AR fashion plans

Fashion Week's new fling? Augmented reality comes into focus

Chanel is also getting into AR with the announcement during Fashion Week that it's working with online fashion retailer Farfetch (which it's also investing in) to develop bespoke augmented reality tech for its stores.

All we know about this "augmented retail" scheme so far is that it will, in some way, blend real, designer garments with digital shopping elements and that it's based on Farfetch's data-focused Store of the Future concept. We're not sure yet how the AR will be presented - smart mirrors, iPads or wearables, maybe?

Tilt Brush hits NYFW

Fashion Week's new fling? Augmented reality comes into focus

Kiwi designer Rebecca Taylor went all in with the virtual reality art app Tilt Brush to showcase her A/W18 collection at her New York City store.

Visitors could experience Taylor's installation, which she called a "magical experience" via 3D projections mapped onto the space, so still technically AR in our book, and via regular, fully 360 immersive VR. The designer worked with a Google Artist in Residence Wesley Allsbrook to transfer her designs to the virtual painting program.

Echo Look gets a look-in

Fashion Week's new fling? Augmented reality comes into focus

It's not wearable, but sticking with the connected self theme, Amazon's Echo Look connected camera (which helps you take fashion selfies and gives you advice) was used by designer Prabal Gurung to shoot his look book for his Fall 2018 collection and to shoot stills and footage of his runway show.

As NYFW kicked off, Amazon also took the opportunity to announce some new features for the Look in the form of a collections tool that lets you sort pictures of your outfits by colour, item and occasion with curated style advice by Vogue and GQ.


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Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

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