- Aileen Yu |
When it comes to sustainability and caring about the environment, fashion has been a bit behind the curve compared with other other industries such as tech. This tumultuous year has led major fashion brands to re-evaluate how they will move forward in sustainability and digitization. Fashion tech ventures such as Zyler are here to help retailers do just that with virtual clothing try-on solutions. According to Alexander Berend, the CEO of Zyler (Anthropics), “The central change that will happen in fashion will be this move from the impersonal to the personal.”
This month, FashionUnited interviewed Berend via video chat to learn more about how Zyler’s virtual clothing try-on solution will not only enhance a shopper’s virtual experience, but also impact current issues such as waste reduction and body inclusivity. Helping improve people’s lives through tech is at the heart of Zyler and Berend hopes by using their technology, the time shoppers’ spend online will be more fun, inspiring, and may even transport them to a world where they dare to see themselves in a totally different way.
Tell us a bit about Anthropics Technology and how it led to launching Zyler?
Anthropics started in 1998, so for around twenty years we’ve been working on different areas of visual appearance, animation software, and created a suite of tools for photographers which has really helped us develop a wide range of tech in changing how people look. Over the years, some of our clients have been L’Oreal, St Tropez, and Pantene so we’ve already been coming up with virtual solutions for retailers in the cosmetics and hair sector. Together, with the work that we’ve done on bodies with our photography enhancing software, it naturally led us to fashion.
What was the inspiration behind Zyler and what is your mission with this venture?
About two years ago we realized that we’ve learned so much about how people look, how bodies work and how you can adapt them using AI software. So we effectively came up with a system to realistically and beautifully show people how they would look in clothes online.
We had that moment where we realized the fashion industry is a market crying out for good technology and that it desperately needs this type of virtual try-on solution. Especially during this unprecedented year, when we’re all spending more time indoors, it’s incredibly gratifying to be able to help people bring the outside world virtually into their homes.
Can you tell us how Zyler will simplify the virtual clothing try-on experience for retailers and consumers?
For the retailer, we actively try to minimize the difficulty for them to work with us. All that we really need from a retailer is an image of a model wearing the clothes. I think with other companies you might need the physical product, a ton of data or giant body scanners. We don’t need any of that, we work with what people already have. From the consumers point of view, we’re looking just for a headshot and basic measurements, that’s it.
We see Zyler opening up a much more personal experience between a customer and retailer or brand.
What about retailers engaging with shoppers and the customer experience, how will Zyler’s technology propel that?
There’s so many possibilities here: suppose a brand is launching a new collection, with our technology the retailer can announce it to their customers by letting them see it on themselves immediately. Right from the discovery point of the fashion cycle to the more direct engagement and shareability as well. One of the lessons we’ve learned from the last few years is that personal recommendations is everything. Having your friend show you an outfit and getting excited about it is so much more powerful. Similar to a friend recommending a movie to you. We see Zyler opening up a much more personal experience between a customer and retailer or brand.
Also, fashion could do a lot more in terms of inclusivity as well by which I mean that there’s a whole load of stigmas around what people can wear. That’s where this kind of technology that allows anyone to try anything, anywhere, in an easy and non judgemental way is essential to making fashion a better industry.
What about the realm of influencer marketing, will this also be an important sector as well?
Yes, definitely, we see a lot of potential working with people who set the tone in the industry. For example, if you see an outfit that you like on an influencer and you want to try it on. Now you can with Zyler! And you can be part of the conversation and keep it going by sharing it with your friends. So, in a way, instead of just one content creator disseminating their ‘look’ all around, everyone becomes a content creator. To an extent, it democratizes fashion and will take engagement to the next level.
With improved and real time customer engagement through Zyler’s virtual try-on, how does this aspect increase purchase conversions?
Right now, when shoppers buy something online, it’s a little bit like gambling. You are hoping something will come through the door that will suit you. Because the customer already knows that, he or she is more hesitant to make that purchase. From the data we’ve already gathered, our belief is that having seen yourself in that outfit and getting excited about it at home, you're that much more likely to commit to the purchase.
It’s also about reducing returns, which is a central problem that is wasteful, detrimental to the environment, but also very painful from a cost perspective for retailers. To an extent, if a customer has a better idea the outfit will suit them when they’re purchasing, they're much less likely to return the item.
What other assets do you see retailers gaining from implementing your platform into their business?
Our technology will also allow retailers to see how shoppers react to trying on certain items such as if they took the time to try on specific clothing, and how they responded. This data allows another level to finding out what customers appreciate from the retailer’s offerings. It’s another angle to have a different type of conversation with their customers. This means better recommendations, and more interesting ideas for the customer.
What about the issue of privacy and security with the data collected?
We take this issue incredibly seriously and operate within Europe’s strict GDPR regulations. Additionally, we’ve also come up with our own set of security techniques that we’ve developed with the photography software. Most importantly, our business model does not depend on sharing or selling data. The idea is that once users sign up with us, we keep the records securely so that means the next time you use Zyler, even on a different retailer’s site, the details are all ready for you.
What do you envision for the future of Zyler and further technological advancements in the world of online shopping?
Currently, we’re building an app which will target end users. Not just plugging into retailers sites but also an app which will have outfits from different brands. It will be a hub for shoppers to try things, experiment with new looks, discover new styles and share that with their personal virtual community.
There is so much technology happening in both the visualization side, but also in the manufacturing processes as well. Imagine a future, where individuals may be able to tailor the clothing to themselves in a more unique way. If somebody has a particular style, they don’t just have to hope that a brand will come up with it. It may even be possible to visualize those tweaks in real time. Instead of the industry making a bunch of things and then learning what consumers like, people may be able to influence the products being manufactured immediately; ultimately, helping individuals go back to individual clothing.
Historically, the era of mass produced clothes is actually quite recent. Going forward we might find ourselves ‘heading back’ but towards meaningful items. What Zyler is trying to do now is the first step in that process: By letting people try on many more things much more quickly, you’re much more quickly to find something that suits you.
To find out more about Zyler's virtual clothing try-on, go to www.zyler.com
Photos: courtesy of Zyler, Anthropics Technology