Digital showrooms – future-proofing the fashion industry?

Digital showrooms have given brands an alternative to the in-store experience.
20 July 2020

Digital showrooms may be the new way to ‘view’ fashion. Source: Unsplash

  • The global fashion e-commerce industry is set to hit US$829.6 billion by the end of 2024
  • Leading brands have been turning to digital solutions to sustain and propel business models 
  • Digital showrooms present new opportunities for companies to engage with consumers and consolidate brand identity 

The fashion industry, by its nature, is quick to adapt to changing trends and tastes of consumers and society. Not only is staying ahead about creating clothes that people want to wear, it’s about creating an experience that makes them want to shop.

The most successful players here know they can’t stand still, and eagerly embrace new technologies and innovations that enable them to reach their customers. The most notable and widespread shift has come with the boom in e-commerce. The move online for retailers has been transformational; it now accounts for more than a quarter of global fashion sales, and was last year estimated to have hit US$520 billion in revenues, with predictions that it will reach US$829.6 billion by the end of 2024. 

While the pandemic has brought significant upset to the fashion industry in the form of ruptured global supply chains, bricks-and-mortar closures, declining consumer purchasing power and changing habits, and a disjoint to the usual seasonal planning of lines – ingenuity has shone through regardless of the hurdles.

While digital shopping is certainly helping brands stay afloat, the most innovative brands have been set on creating new, exciting experiences that allow them to connect with their customers, and to capitalize on never-before-seen circumstances. This has led to the rise of a new trend, ‘digital showrooms’.

Liu Jo, an Italian clothing company founded in 1995, was one of the first brands to pivot towards this new trend. The brand turned to virtual platforms, multimedia content, and industry experts and influencers, to launch its ‘digital first’ sales campaign for the 2021 line. The digital showroom will see the brand present its “Liu Jo Dream On” virtual show, broadcast on a dedicated website and following the format of a news program, with accompanying musical refrains and voiceover commentaries. 

The platform will also host digital displays and stories where it will be possible to discover collections “in every detail”, with the support of Liu Jo’s sales team in tailor-made consultancy sessions. Liu Jo called the move “an important evolution” for the company. 

Launching Hyperoom, Italian clothing maker, Diesel is another global brand attempting to move from the runway and into digital showrooms. “The year 2020 has sparked an urgency to accelerate what we can offer and accomplish in the digital space,” said Massimo Piombini, Diesel’s CEO. 

“With this tool, we have set a new benchmark for the industry, in regard to digital transformation. Our Hyperoom is the ultimate virtual buying experience.” Diesel’s Hyperoom allows shoppers to explore a virtual showroom, modeled on its flagship store in Milan, offering shoppers an immersive shopping experience with the brand’s own unique flavor.

Shoppers are able to “interact” with clothing items online; products are rendered in 360-degree displays and are presented following the particular style and identity of the Diesel brand. The realistic visuals of products are accompanied by product descriptions as well.

The option for consumers to view a product close-up and in a dedicated virtual space with video-led fittings of each style collectively aims to replicate the “touch and feel” experience that consumers would get when shopping in real life. To help shoppers in the later stages of the customer journey, a live Diesel vendor will be connected with potential buyers and assist shoppers in the purchase process.

While digital showrooms inject doses of innovation and novelty in the fashion sector, retailers are gradually recognizing the value of digital platforms to sustain business continuity but also to minimize their environmental footprint.

Diesel predicts by enlisting digital initiatives such as the digital showroom, the company can drastically reduce its carbon footprint equivalent to an average return flight from Milan to London, which generates close to 0.30 tonnes of CO2eq.