After years of tackling challenges and using fashion to support worthwhile causes, Kimberly Carney, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of FashWire, plans to take the next act of her company to the virtual world.
The company, which is equal parts business-to-business data platform and consumer-facing mall for fashion and beauty, was at CES in Las Vegas last week to promote CasaWire, its recently launched homewares and interiors division. In promoting the initiative, Carney exclusively shared with WWD that augmented and virtual reality features are coming not only to CasaWire early next year, but also to FashWire and GlossWire shortly thereafter.
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“What we’re really hoping to do with the machine learning, AR and VR that we’re bringing is creating a 3D vision of the space that you can actually walk into and see what it would look like in your living room or kitchen and so on” said Carney. “We’re also taking it to FashWire where you have this runway look where you can see the outfit and every side of it.”
Augmented and Virtual Reality are a natural fit for Furnishings, and once this initial development is complete, it can serve as a foundation to adapt and build upon for other experiences. For fashion, Carney described a virtual runway with items chosen by the shopper in the mobile app.
Pressing for details, she shared a snippet of prepared company materials describing the features: “Our AR roadmap will create immersive experiences leveraging AR and computer vision libraries. This will provide a path for enhanced space design capabilities within CasaWire or virtual runway shows within FashWire to name a few.”
The experience, she added, is notable for its realism. Designers and buyers will be able to see this for themselves in the coming months. CasaWire’s first technical launch in Q1 will debut as “Shop the Room,” where interior designers can showcase their talents to educated shoppers by uploading images of fully designed spaces. In Q2, CasaWire will add AR so customers can view products from the mobile app and website in their home before purchasing.
AR will arrive in FashWire in Q2 in the form of a “virtual fitting room,” along with a service that helps customers visualize themselves through an image with their actual measurements. According to the company, “the consumer will be able to take a picture of themselves and then select an item, e.g. a dress. The selected item is then correctly displayed in the consumer’s image so that the consumer can imagine how the garment, accessory, etc. will look on them in real life.” Whether that is related to the “catwalk” example described by Carney or is independent of this is not clear at this time.
In the same second quarter, GlossWire will introduce a virtual makeover of brands on the GlossWire platform.
The business has grown significantly since it first launched with FashWire in 2018, from 25 brands to 445 from around 50 countries. Since GlossWire’s arrival in February 2021, the list has grown from 50 brands to over 300 from around 30 countries. CasaWire’s December 22 debut added 65 home and decor brands to the mix, with another 30 to come in the near future.
Partner brands know the company for its multinational platform, but others in the fashion industry may know it for supporting causes important to the industry. These include raising funds early in the pandemic to expand personal protective equipment, offering support for Ukrainian fashion designers and brands, and raising funds for the Virgil Abloh Post-Modern Scholarship Fund. Now it clearly wants to be known as an innovator as well, supporting virtual innovations as much as real causes.
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