Fashion is more inclusive than ever and technology is a prime driver. 

To celebrate the opening of the new Balmain store in Milan, Balmain's creative director, Olivier Rousteing, merged fashion and technology. Instead of throwing just another ordinary party, they went a (virtual) step further - a visually immersive journey of Balmain's collections titled: "My City of Lights" using the bespoke Balmain VR headsets. 

The headsets, he says, create “a metaphorical journey through his creative process in a way that is designed to trigger the feelings he experiences during the genesis of his collections: everything from risk and doubt to elation”. Rousteing wants customers to enter his brain and discover his feelings through the VR headsets.

A rendering of the VR Balmain experience
A rendering of the VR Balmain experience
Image: Balmain

Balmain is the second luxury brand using technology to enhance the shopping experience, following Gucci. Gucci launched their interactive window displays in stores around the world earlier this year. The brand collaborated with Spanish artist, Ignasi Monreal, using mannequins 'interacting' with his digital illustrations to create the sense of a gallery-inspired tableau instead of conventional in-store windows.

In many Gucci stores, people can use VR headsets while shopping, which attempts to further immerse potential customers in the creative origins of their retail experience. Naturally I would love to ‘immerse’ (whatever that means) myself in Gucci’s interactive experience but it’s not yet available in South Africa (disappointing but not surprising).

No doubt tech will have an increasing impact on fashion, and Balmain and Gucci are leading the way in one-of-a-kind experiences. Do these applications offer real value or are they just marketing gimmicks? Perhaps it doesn't really matter...

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