French fashion powerhouse Balmain recently unveiled its new “Virtual Army” campaign.
It has created three lifelike digital models, known as Margot Shudu and Zhi, as the new faces of the brand.
View this post on Instagram
BALMAIN’S VIRTUAL ARMY Margot, @shudu.gram and Zhi wear looks and accessories from the #BALMAINPF18 collection. Discover more through the link in bio. #BALMAINARMY #BALMAINPF18 #BALMAINBBOX In collaboration with #CameronJamesWilson @shudu.gram 3D garments by @itsclo3d
A post shared by BALMAIN (@balmain) on Sep 3, 2018 at 7:51am PDT
The three models are being used to promote the brand’s latest fashion designs.
One of them, Shudu, is known as the “world’s first digital supermodel” and boasts almost 140,000 followers on Instagram.
Yet innovation is more than just using digital models, and having employees use iPads for their jobs in stores.
Artificial intelligence is predicting what customers need and want.
“New retail”, a term created by Jack Ma – executive chairman of Alibaba Group, the e-commerce conglomerate that owns South China Morning Post – is the integration of online and offline resources to revolutionise the retail experience.
Alibaba is installing hi-tech mirrors in women’s bathrooms.
Women can try on beauty products in front of virtual mirrors, while they wait in line for the bathroom and before they make a purchase.
In stores, shoppers can create their own avatars to try on new clothes for them.
Earlier this year, Amazon secured a patent for a blended reality mirror, which could superimpose virtual clothing on your reflection.
It might even be capable of placing you in a virtual scene, depicting a specific occasion, such as a wedding, so you can choose the perfect outfit while doing some in-home shopping.
Louisa Zhang leads the growth initiatives of portfolio companies at Hong Kong-based venture capital fund Vectr Ventures.
Zhang is closely monitoring the artificial intelligence (AI) space and has identified “personalised beauty’ as a big trend.
“We have seen ‘personalised fashion’ from the likes of Stitch Fix, which uses data and product feedback to predict and recommend the styles a customer likes,” Zhang says.
And we will continue to see brands using data to provide better recommendations and to create products that are uniquely made for you.
“This is referred to as ‘micro-personalisation’. Instead of picking a foundation that matches your skin tone, micro-personalisation refers to a foundation created based on your skin type, colour, the texture and scent you like, and it fits your lifestyle and skincare goals.”
A consumer’s preferences are changing faster than ever.
To keep up with this, brands have had to use AI.
Zhang says: “A traditional supply chain’s reaction time to replenishment can be as long as 19 weeks, and if the wrong inventory level is chosen, this results in markdowns.
“We have seen AI technology that uses data collected from various sources – including industry-wide, social media, product attributes, and historical transaction data – to predict demand faster and with higher accuracy.
There is a company in Hong Kong called Chain of Demand, which is working on this for apparels.”
AI can indeed bring more to the table: we can help make consumers healthier.
Angie Lau, an award-winning former presenter at Bloomberg Television, now leads her own team at Narramur, a cutting-edge communications advisory company focused on narrative and technology.
Lau also serves as an adviser to the Li Ka Shing Foundation, Horizons Ventures and numerous start-ups.
“I know that artificial intelligence, as scary as it sounds, will be part of the ‘fabric’ of our future lives,” Lau says.
“It allows us to scale and create efficiencies, which means affordability. That’s so critical when it comes to health care.”
Lau is keeping a close eye on a specific start-up, which is using AI to link fashion and health care.
She says: “Cyrcadia Asia is about to launch its first product called the IT bra in Hong Kong and globally. It is the first wearable technology that will simply change the course of breast cancer detection forever.
“For Asian women, our biology and size means that the current standard of mammography is not as accurate as it needs to be.
“What Cyrcadia is doing with AI and breast cancer detection is a game-changer. The start-ups of today are working on solutions right now.”