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Technology

Fashion Meets Technology

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Bloomingdale’s and Microsoft teamed up during Fashion Week in NYC to showcase the intersection of fashion and technology.

The event, consisting of a handful of vignettes designed to immerse shoppers in the newest looks from the luxury retailer’s fall collection, added an element of fun and encouraged shoppers to “try on” items they might otherwise have passed over.

The pièce de résistance was Swivel, a virtual fitting room created by a company called FaceCake using Windows’ Kinect technology. The program allows shoppers to virtually select and try on clothing, accessories and jewelry — easily visualizing, for example, how that oxblood-hued handbag will look with the herringbone pencil skirt, or if a leopard-patterned silk blouse looks best with a long chain or a beaded choker.

Bloomingdale’s showcased the Swivel technology at 20 stores across the country. Some 150 pieces of clothing and accessories were included — with efforts made to ensure that all the items were available at each store. Store associates were situated nearby, ready to help shoppers find the items they fell in love with, and a built-in social component allowed shoppers to take a photo of the looks they were trying on and push them out to friends and family via Facebook, Twitter and the like. The bonus for Bloomie’s: a robust database that generated real-time reports detailing the items that were “tried on” most frequently — and whether or not try-ons converted into sales.

The intersection of fashion and technology actually began at the intersection of Lexington and 57th Street, where the store windows were outfitted with sensors. Shoppers were invited to play designer using a virtual mannequin: By simply touching images affixed to the window, shoppers could mix and match a handful of trendy items to create their own variations from the looks displayed.

Inside the stores the Microsoft Printing Dress was on display. A variation on the emerging trend of wearable technology, the dress featured a bodice with a working Qwerty keyboard. Fashioned almost entirely out of paper, the dress is actually a Microsoft Research project. Though shoppers couldn’t touch the dress, they could interact with it; those who sent a tweet using the designated hashtag could wait for their words to appear on the skirt — a technology enabled, in part, by a projector mounted beneath the dress.

Walking through the store and seeing this marriage of fashion and technology, I couldn’t help but think of Marvin Traub, the former Bloomingdale’s CEO who passed away in July. Traub taught the world about retail theater and helped turn the phrase “like no other store in the world” into the luxury retailer’s slogan.

If I closed my eyes I could almost see him there — dressed in a pinstripe suit, arms folded and eyes twinkling as he looked approvingly at the Bloomie’s/Microsoft event. He would have been proud.

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