After years of tackling challenges and using fashion in support of meaningful causes in the real world, FashWire founder and chief executive officer Kimberly Carney plans to take the next act of her business into the virtual one.
Equal parts business-to-business data platform and consumer-facing fashion and beauty shopping hub, the company was at CES in Las Vegas last week to tout CasaWire, its recently launched home goods and interior decor division. In the course of promoting the initiative, Carney told WWD exclusively that augmented and virtual reality features are not only coming to CasaWire early next year, but also FashWire and GlossWire shortly after that.
“What we’re really hoping to create with the machine learning, AR and VR that we’re bringing in is that 3D vision of the room where you can actually go in and see how it would look in your living room or your kitchen and so ten,” said Carney. “We’re bringing it to FashWire as well, where you have that runway-type look, where you can see the outfit and see each side of it.”
Augmented and virtual reality are a natural fit for home furnishings, and once that initial development has been accomplished, it can serve as a foundation to adapt and build on for other experiences. For fashion, Carney described a virtual runway featuring items picked by the shopper in the mobile app.
When pressed for details, she shared a segment from prepared company materials that described the features: “Our AR road map will create immersive experiences by leveraging AR and computer vision libraries. This will provide a pathway for enhanced room design capabilities within CasaWire or virtual runway shows within FashWire, to cite a few examples.”
The experience, she added, stands out in its realism. Over the coming months, designers and shoppers will be able to judge that for themselves. CasaWire’s initial tech rollout in the first quarter will debut as “Shop the Room,” where interior designers will be able to showcase their talents to educated buyers by uploading images of fully designed rooms. In the second quarter, CasaWire will add AR, so customers can view products from the mobile app and website in their home before buying.
AR will arrive in FashWire in the second quarter in the form of a “Virtual Dressing Room,” along with a service that will help customers visualize the look on themselves through a picture with their actual measurements. According to the company, “The consumer will be able to take a picture of themselves and then select an item, eg, dress. The selected item will then be posted on the consumer’s picture correctly so they can visualize how the garment, accessory, etc. will look at them in real life.” Whether that’s connected to or independent of the “runway” example that Carney described isn’t clear at this time.
During the same second quarter, GlossWire will debut a virtual makeover from brands in the GlossWire platform.
The business has grown substantially since its initial launch with FashWire in 2018, going from 25 brands to 445 from roughly 50 countries. Since GlossWire’s arrival in February 2021, its roster of 50 brands has soared to more than 300 from some 30 countries. CasaWire’s debut on Dec. 22 added 65 home and decor brands to the mix, with another 30 added in the near future.
Partner brands know the company for its multinational platform, but others in fashion may know it for supporting causes that have been meaningful for the industry. These include raising money early in the pandemic to ramp up personal protective equipment, offering support to Ukraine’s fashion designers and brands and fundraising for the Virgil Abloh Post-Modern Scholarship Fund. Now, it clearly wants to be known as an innovator as well that supports virtual innovation as much as real-world causes.