Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Oct. 22.
Alibaba Group’s B2C e-commerce site Tmall has taken Shanghai Fashion Week runways and brought them online, while also using the event to reveal its new advanced clothing-simulation technologies.
The latest fashion innovations from Alibaba come as the company works to enhance online-to-offline shopping experiences for consumers, from the cutting-edge solutions behind the FashionAI concept store and “See Now, Buy Now” fashion shows to Tmall’s try-before-you-buy service.
As part of its partnership with Shanghai Fashion Week, which this year ran Oct. 10-17, Tmall invited four Chinese fashion brands — Me&City, IMMI, Banxiaoxue and Zhangshuai — to experience the new technology. Based on the brands’ design samples, the software could visualize how a garment drapes in motion or fits different body types. Users could view the virtual showcase, as well as watch the live-streamed Fashion Week shows, in the Mobile Taobao and Tmall apps throughout the event.
HOW IT WORKS: Tmall’s virtual runway tech at SHFW.
Tmall Fashion Vice President Anita Lyu said that after developing the technology over two years, Shanghai Fashion Week offered the chance to take it public.
“Its value lies in the potential it has for enabling independent designers, who might not be able to afford putting on a runway show like big-name brands, let alone the costs for sample-making,” Lyu said. “Being the premier platform in China’s B2C online marketplace, Tmall can provide emerging designers with unparalleled expertise in technology and supply-chain management to give them the push they need.”
In March, Tmall entered a partnership with Shanghai Fashion Week to help one of the industry’s most influential events in China up its digital game. Per their agreement, Tmall will bring New Retail technology to the Fashion Week, enhancing the attendee experience and delivering valuable consumer insights to organizers, buyers and designers. This season, aside from the virtual-runway showcase, Tmall installed smart technologies across the event, including “showroom robots” that allow buyers to remotely view products, speak to designers and place orders in real-time. Tmall technology also provided foot-traffic heat maps across dozens of showrooms that analyzed which brands, items, clothing styles, colors and fabrics have garnered the most attention.
When watching the virtual show, users could tap on any garment to see its detailed textures in 360 degrees. They could change body measurements — from height and weight to bust, waist and hip sizes — and see how outfits looked on a virtual model. And they could open a “stretch map” to show which parts might fit too tight around the body.
The consumer insights retrieved through the interactive technology can help brands engage consumers, as well as more accurately forecast market demand and inform consumer-driven manufacturing in the future.