‘Real’ digital clothes, not pictures? ItsMeSee on making this a reality,
Interview with the founder of ItsMeSee – Alf-B Dagsvold, by Cate Trotter, Insider Trends
One of the biggest issues of shopping online is figuring out how the clothes will look or fit in real life. Norwegian innovators ItsMeSee think they may have the solution though. Taking the idea of being able to ‘try clothes on digitally’ further than perhaps any other, the company’s platform makes it possible to shake, unbutton and interact with the clothes as they would in real-life.
Founder Alf-B Dagsvold gives us an insider look at the solution, and explains the importance of the customer’s emotional repsonse in retail:
In a nutshell, can you tell us what ItsMeSee does in a way my grandmother would understand?
Imagine remote controlled “real” clothes behind a screen. You can do anything you could do with the actual clothes as if you had them in front of you – except touch them with your fingers. It is possible to lift them up, turn them around, button/unbutton/zip, shake and take a closer look at any detail.
Using your camera, you can quickly and easily create a representation of yourself, with all the right proportions and measurements, skin, hair and eye colours. It can even move like you.
Combining these two options, simulated clothes with simulated you, opens up a way of shopping like nothing you have seen before. You can try on and combine any fashion item without the bother of dressing/undressing or looking for the right size. Sizes are automatically selected for you, based on your input on your simulated image. Each change is done in a fraction of a second allowing you to focus on the visual appearance of each combination on your personal simulation.
When you do your shopping, you will have the option of getting a personal automated shopping assistant, helping you find the best possible combinations for you. It will know your tastes and preferences and can suggest choices you might not think of yourself.
All the technologies we use are existing and mature, we only do some tweaks and adaptations to fit the purpose and practicality of an online shopping platform.
What are the main applications that you see for ItsMeSee?
The main application for ItsMeSee is as a fashion browser for the consumer. The problem is not finding products, but finding the right products in a chaotic world with millions of choices.
It allows for a near brick-and-mortar experience, without the inconvenience of the “hunt and gather”, both online and in stores today.
It breaks down the artificial walls between brands and stores, presenting products according to the shopper’s wishes and needs. The consumer is in the centre of a store that is always adapting and changing to its user.
For brands and retailers, ItsMeSee’s fashion browser means products can hit a global market only hours after the prototypes are ready, sometimes even before. This makes it possible to try out design variations before any production.
How is it different to other ‘try-on-clothes-digitally’ solutions?
The difference is our focus on the consumer, visual quality and a wholistic system. Everyone wants to make a “fit” solution, helping the consumer buy the right sizes (and saving the retailer lots of returns).
They don’t seem to understand the emotional experience is the most important of all in shopping. If you do not feel good, technological gizmos and practical solutions will never be a hit.
Super realism and no lag or stutter in the browser is mandatory. Current solutions built for retailers demand fast digital production, always at the expense of quality.
How do you go about creating the digital clothing samples?
To create digital clothing simulations, we use CAD drawings and software that can make semi realistic 3D models as a base. From there it is a matter of manually improving each detail, doing adjustments and adding physics for realistic look and behaviour. The browser and creation of digital self contains our own technological developments.
Each fashion item requires a lot of attention and work to get to a level the tech savvy audience expects today. Until we have built our capacity and base product database, the work will be relative slow. Some items require days and even weeks to finish, other hours. The good thing is, once made, every item will be instantly available all over the world and variations are fast and easy to make.
What do you think will come next regarding bringing the online shopping experience more in line with the physical one?
High quality digital fashion is a perfect fit for sharing on social media. Before buying it will be possible to share an outfit you have put together yourself for comments and likes. It is also possible to invite friends or family into your digital dressing room, to look at different outfits on several digital versions of yourself.
Beta shoppers can give votes on what they like and dislike, getting discounts or other rewards. The brand will know what each country and region prefer in real-time, helping them make more informed decisions, saving both money and improving time to market.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Many fashion brands and retailers are afraid to change their formula for success. Mature brands with long traditions and fading popularity like Ralph Lauren seem unable to adapt, perhaps because of senior management’s unwillingness to let go.
Then you have Burberry. A very old and distinct brand who is always on the forefront of innovation and new thinking today. One of the first brands to truly embrace the digital customer.
Amazon was a retailer selling products online, long before almost anyone even thought of this as a marketplace. Now they are a dominating global retail platform and can demand almost anything from brands wanting to sell through them.
There are lots of technologies out there, trying to help customers digitally: smart mirrors, bots, data collecting tools, cameras for social media sharing in dressing room, body scanners, etc. Though they have some uses and receive mild interest it all seems mostly intrusive and annoying. None of them offer a natural reason for use as a part of everyday life. The quality of the experience is also very dubious and often annoying.
ItsMeSee aims to combine all these technologies and systems into one unifying platform, personalised for each customer and as a part of the digital devices each person carries already.
How are you planning on developing ItsMeSee further? What is next for the company?
ItsMeSee, or something very similar, will be the standard and obvious next step for fashion. Nobody will ever want to go back to looking at pictures and jumping from brand to brand reviewing single configurations and stylings. The consumer will expect to get tailormade selections and personal assistance at their fingertips. All without any extra cost.
We have presented our project to hundreds of enthusiastic fashion brands and designers all over the world, but still have not made the platform ready to test it out, due to lack of further funding. Creating something different and innovative, with nothing existing to be compared to, makes things complicated. Finding the right partner is therefore a challenge.