July 22, 2024

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Fashion Trends, Shopping More Joyfully

Apple Vision Pro Shopping Features

8 min read

It’s hard to express what felt more real as I shopped on the Apple Vision Pro headset for the first time — the virtual try-on that allowed me to sift through J.Crew’s latest collection and dress my personal in-app mannequin, or the pain that shot through my wrist as I accidentally banged my hand on the table before me (a surface I had altogether forgotten about after entering this immersive tech space). Users participate in intuitive hand and eye movements to navigate the world with Apple Vision, and believe me, once you’re fully enveloped in the realistic background scenes that seamlessly mesh the digital with the physical, these motions become natural. So natural, in fact, that I was too involved in moving through a 3D environment to remember that I was sitting in a chair next to a representative from Obsess, who was in the process of walking me through the experience.

Obsess is a technology platform that has worked with brands to create more than 300 virtual stores and experiences that have been visited by over 15 million people to date. As a visionOS developer, the team was able to bring J.Crew’s Virtual Closet App to life, creating an interactive, ultra-high-definition 3D environment. The app also utilizes SharePlay, which incorporates a FaceTime call with J.Crew stylists for real-time feedback and outfit advice. Users are able to examine a curation of the brand’s products virtually like never before, even assessing the texture and quality of the materials used to construct each piece. Needless to say, I was blown away by the capabilities of the program, and I received a tiny bruise on my wrist to prove it. But I’ve also been 100 percent convinced that the shock was worth it.

Ahead, I break down everything you need to know about shopping on the Apple Vision Pro, according to J.Crew and Obsess; explore other augmented reality (AR) shopping experiences in the space offered by renowned beauty brand e.l.f. Cosmetics; and discuss the key emotional and psychological benefits of shopping with AI technology, as suggested by “Dress Your Best Life” author Dawnn Karen.

Experts Featured in This Article

Dawnn Karen is a fashion psychologist, founder of the fashion psychology field, and professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Courtesy of Obsess

Apple Vision Pro Shopping Features

J.Crew has long been renowned for its unique styling ideas — following Jenna Lyons’s 27-year tenure at the company where she carried out a preppy-meets-glam aesthetic that has now been reinterpreted by creative director and head of design Olympia Gayot — the look remains prominent in the Apple Vision Pro space as well. As soon as the user enters the Virtual Closet, they can select a product and read key specs about it, similar to what you’d find on the standard website. However, as soon as you dress your mannequin in two or more pieces of clothing, the signature J.Crew point of view is employed, so the user sees exactly how a brand stylist would recommend wearing the outfit — whether that’s by half-tucking the top into the waistband of the pants or by layering certain accessories.

What’s more, J.Crew and Obsess have made SharePlay a possibility by allowing for an in-app FaceTime call. “Through this feature, shoppers can get real-time reactions and feedback from the stylist, and the stylist can better understand their clients’ preferences and reactions to certain items and looks,” says Neha Singh, CEO and founder of Obsess. “This makes the experience much more human than a standard FaceTime or chatbot experience, as the stylist can provide you with the same expert insights that you’d get in a real store.”

J.Crew had previously worked with Obsess on building dynamic, multi-room worlds called the J.Crew Beach House and J.Crew Snow Lodge, which sparked the idea to re-open the brand’s digital marketing playbook yet again with innovation in mind. “We saw that visitors were spending two to three times longer than the average [website] experience,” Halsey Anderson, vice president of marketing at J.Crew, says of the company’s initial foray into the AR world. “With that success in mind, we were thrilled to create an even more immersive experience in partnership with Obsess for Apple Vision Pro.”

Similarly, Obsess partnered with e.l.f. Cosmetics to introduce a multi-sensory, immersive visionOS app for Apple Vision Pro where shoppers can not only check out directly using Apple Pay, but also engage in relaxing activities and games to de-stress.

Mixed Reality and AR Shopping

Obsess reports that incorporating games into these virtual experiences — whether for Apple Vision Pro or any sort of mixed-reality shopping component — increases the time spent in the space by up to 355 percent, and that users who choose to play a game within the store are 10 times more likely to add products to their cart, according to Singh. For example, in J.Crew’s Virtual Ski Chalet, there was a vintage skiing arcade game, and in the Beach House, a J.Crew catalog quiz. The Obsess team walked me through these two worlds, and as I spotted artwork from old J.Crew catalogs lining the walls of the chalet, I felt a pang of nostalgia that no doubt strengthened my emotional connection to the brand. In other words, it validated me as a loyal shopper. Singh says scavenger hunts also “drove engagement at levels that outperformed benchmarks for Obsess’s portfolio of virtual stores overall.”

Meanwhile, e.l.f. Cosmetics has long been experimenting in this realm. While it is also one of the first brands on Apple Vision Pro, the beauty company, beloved by Gen Z, previously implemented e.l.f. Yeah on TikTok, e.l.f. You on Twitch, and e.l.f. UP! on Roblox, which is a virtual racing competition that allows customers to further engage with the brand and interact with it on their own terms. The purpose, according to Ekta Chopra, chief digital officer of e.l.f. Beauty, is to strengthen the brand-consumer relationship, which drives sales, and “to disrupt norms, shape culture, and connect communities through positivity, inclusivity, and accessibility.” Chopra says the Roblox addition was an ask from a community of young e.l.f. shoppers and changemakers who thrive on digital platforms. “We are proud of this experience that has a 96 percent approval rating with over 8 million total visits to the platform,” she says.

Courtesy of e.l.f. Cosmetics

The Benefits of AR Shopping

When I first heard about AR shopping, I assumed many people might find the idea of shopping on Apple Vision Pro to be isolating, or even all-consuming. However, Karen shed light on some key benefits that classify this technology as beneficial to the disability community, along with those who suffer from mental health issues or are simply more introverted than others. “For people who suffer from anxiety or depression, where it’s so debilitating that they cannot leave their homes, this essentially could level the playing field,” Karen notes. “So, it won’t be just the extroverted personality types or the people who are not suffering from mental health issues who are allowed to shop, or have the desire to be stylish. The psychologically and physically marginalized can now have a sense of style and fashion at their eyelids.”

“The psychologically and physically marginalized can now have a sense of style and fashion at their eyelids.”

Karen also points out the flexibility of the Apple Vision Pro, which can be controlled from a lighting and audio perspective: “If you think about the retail experience for someone who’s suffering from sensory overload, the lights may be too blaring and the music may be too loud.” While you can’t touch the clothing when using the Apple headset, you can still reach out and indulge your senses, which can create more autonomy over your shopping experience.

Finally, Karen feels the Apple Vision Pro can help people shop with more intention and mindfulness, especially if you consider your emotions more closely before turning on the device. She lists questions that users might benefit from asking themselves ahead of time: “Am I grateful for the clothing that I do have? Did I nourish my need to connect by reaching out to my friends? Am I trying to escape by shopping?”

While Apple Vision Pro technology is still new, in particular the act of shopping on the headset itself, Karen discusses the ways in which the retail experience has historically lacked inclusivity. She references SZA alleging Sephora racially profiled her in 2019 as an example of microaggressions at the retail level that may be potentially avoided with these new tools. “As I said, it levels the playing field, which can create a sense of belongingness where there once was not a sense of belongingness. It was more of the ‘in’ group, ‘out’ group sort of thing,” she says.

The Future of Shopping With Spatial Computing

There are many people who question a breach of ethics in privacy through use of Apple Vision Pro, which Forbes elaborates on. Many people are worried about how their data — including visuals on the space they’re in within their own home — will be tracked by third parties, and who it will be accessible to. The goggles themselves contain sensors, microphones, and cameras that are scanning the room while in use, essentially building a map of sorts. “The Vision Pro can understand objects, so in theory it could detect if you’ve got a crib or a wheelchair or even drug paraphernalia. All of this data would be very attractive to advertisers and data brokers, or even the government,” writes Forbes senior contributor Kate O’Flaherty.

Medium has also reported on potential health problems from extended use of the headset, technological drawbacks connected to companies porting their existing iPad programs straight to AR without developing high-quality visionOS interfaces, and the high price point of the device, which does not ensure accessibility for all.

Ultimately, time will tell whether the benefits of Apple Vision Pro’s shopping experience outweigh the obstacles, but from a first-time user perspective, it’s plain to see why the state-of-the-art visuals and immersive qualities would be easy to get used to while lounging on the couch. After all, that bruise on my wrist did heal — in other words, the J.Crew clothes I was able to purchase that day have far greater staying power. As I swiped through J.Crew’s curation of sophisticated basics, creating different combinations to see how the mannequin would suggest wearing them together, I was swayed to buy a full outfit, rather than the one and only top I might have eyed had I spotted it in-store, draped lifelessly on a hanger.

Sarah Wasilak is the associate director of commerce at PS. With plenty of experience in the shopping market, a keen interest in SEO, and 10 years as an editor at the brand, she enjoys writing across the lifestyle and health-and-fitness categories. She has bylines at PS, InStyle, Elle, Refinery29, Who What Wear, Elite Daily, Byrdie, and The Quality Edit and aims to amplify minority voices in all her work.


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