Last month Krissy D from Interlaced and I got a little glimpse into the future of retail fashion. London shopping mall chain Westfield teamed up with virtual reality interactive experience production company Inition to showcase the key fashion trends of spring/summer 2015 using virtual reality.

Although the concept has been around for decades virtual reality experiences are slowly fighting their ground and moving from a niche interest to the future of fashion, travel and more. Companies such as Oculus Rift (now owned by Facebook), Sony and HTC (in partnership with Steam) have made huge steps in the VR world and are now offering experiences that just a few years ago were the stuff of fantasy.

westfield vr virtual reality shopping oculus rift fashtech

To think about virtual reality technology you need to look at the bigger picture. Sure, the tech will be used for gaming, including 360-degree gaming but it’s also a chance to transport yourself to literally any place in the world. Get a chance to watch gigs from the front row, the ability to look at the interior of cars at a showroom or simply visit your next holiday destination without ever leaving your bedroom.

The possibilities in this case are literally endless, who knew what the internet will be when it was in it’s infancy? It’s great that companies such as Westfield and Inition recognise the potential of VR and are starting to educate the public about it’s potential.

The actual installation consisted of three elements: interacting with giant video walls showcasing this season’s major fashion trends; taking a trip into a colourful dreamscape using Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles; and using Edit Me, a giant touchscreen, to find outfits of any colour or style located in any of Westfield’s many retailers.

Virtual Reality – The Experience

The Oculus Rift was of course the centre of my attention. We got to try out a three-minute-long 360-degree immersive interactive experience in three different worlds by putting on the virtual reality goggles. They contain a Leap Motion sensor strapped to the front that picked up our hands, which allowed us to turn and fly in the dreamscape world.

“There’s a huge swell of interest in VR – there’s probably about 20 VR headset manufacturers trying to bring products to market at this moment. Normally a web-based shopping experience is just a website but with VR, you can replicate the walking into a store experience as if you’re standing in the store itself” – Stuart Cupit, the co-founder and director of Inition.

westfield vr virtual reality shopping oculus rift fashtechAlthough the virtual reality experience was limited it really gave me a glimpse into the future of fashion, catwalks and shopping. By fooling the senses a part of you actually believes you’re in a different world and with the ever faster changes in this technology I believe companies would be wise to act on its potential.

Extraordinary Experiences from Inition

Inition have worked on interactive experience installations for 15 years. They’ve worked with Nissan on producing a flying virtual reality experience and in 2014, it collaborated with Topshop to create a virtual reality fashion catwalk experience that allowed VR headset wearers to feel as if they were in the front row of the fashion show.

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westfield vr virtual reality shopping oculus rift fashtech

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