From algorithms on the internet picking out what you want to buy, to AI powered superstores. Technology is leaping forward and blurring the lines between online and real life. It’s true that in light of the very real threat of the death of the high street, as more customers move online, it is increasingly important for stores to blend the online experience with real life. Not only will this keep customer service roles alive but it also the 4D shopping experience, where you can try before you buy.
In the past Zara and UNIQLO have experimented with virtual changing rooms which copy designs onto your body, but there are some things you can’t tell in a virtual world- like how the garment will feel; whether sequins will be itchy or the waistband will cut in just the wrong place, and as a trained shoe fitter I can assure you that there is no formula for whether a customer will love a shoe. The latest attempt to digitalise the high street has been ‘T#E TRENDING STORE’ in Westfield London.
This shop was open between 3rd – 7th July for shoppers looking to get to the trends whilst they happened. Westfield’s marketing chief Myf Ryan states that the concept of the shop is to create ‘a true reflection of social conversation brought to life in a physical space’. The idea is to entice online shoppers back onto the high street for the full retail experience.
To make searching easier the clothing was divided into categories with appropriate hashtags such as ‘romantic heroines’ for boho chic and ‘dystopian fashionistas’ for Black Mirror inspired looks.
The concept store partnered with NextAtlas to track over 400 000 of the most eminent fashion influencers in 1, 000 different cities. This trend data is then processed by stylists who hunt down the top 100 items. This was then swapped each day to keep on track with real time trends.
Whilst its undoubtedly great that the money raised was donated to Save the Children the idea has been criticised because as it is not a sustainable model for a long-term boutique, and it epitomises the problem of fast fashion. The shop accelerates the availability of trends thus promoting a wasteful throw away culture. As slow fashion advocate Livia Firth (@liviafirth) pointed out on her Instagram last Monday, the ‘Trends Autumn Winter 2019: anything goes, like any other season and year.” Buying clothes should be about what you’re comfortable in and not what your favourite Love Island star wore last night.
The success of this experiment remains to be reported but the lack of enthusiasm for the Instagram #thetrendingstore suggests the high street might need to go back to the drawing board if they want to keep their customers.
BY: MIRANDA STONER