Digital fashion and avatar tech is evolving with use cases that bring real value for brands and consumers alike.
Balmain is partnering with virtual fit solution BODS. Visitors to the French luxury fashion house’s e-commerce site will be able to create personalized 3D avatars and dress them in precise digital recreations of its signature tailoring and embellishment.
The collaboration is launching with seven ready-to-wear designs, alongside five luxury leather handbags and a classic Balmain boot—all featuring high level photorealistic detail.
“Our mission at BODS is to honor these distinct attributes while integrating our technology to create an elevated experience that is true to the brand,” BODS CEO and former model Christine Marzano said in a statement.
However, it’s not just a fun engagement tool. BODS fitmap software harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D creation tool Unreal Engine which powers gaming platforms like Fortnight to help customers choose their perfect size.
When BODS partnered with New York based label Khaite on a beta trial in 2021, the brand noted an increase of 93% in session duration and 11% increase in cart size.
“We believe that BODS will greatly assist our Balmain customer in making more confident decisions,” Balmain Chief Digital Officer Simon Cottigny said in a statement. “That added assurance will improve our conversion rate and, ultimately, lower return rates.”
Improper fit accounts for an estimated 70% of all returned online fashion purchases. Of the Khaite trial Marzano told Forbes that purchasers of the brand’s signature sweaters had previously been buying smalls and extra smalls in first instance and then exchanging them. “After using BODS, the same people were buying it in medium or large and as a result Khaite changed its entire size guide,” she said.
Of course in addition to cutting associated costs, fewer returns also mean less waste due to reduced shipping and transportation.
The collaboration builds upon Balmain’s commitment to sustainability, added Balmain CEO Jean-Jacques Guével. “Forming partnerships with innovators like BODS will allow this house to make great progress in reducing our carbon footprint, while at the same time enhancing the client luxury fashion shopping experience.”
Moving forward, the goal is to expand the service to encompass more of the house’s offering—both its signatures and seasonal designs from runway and commercial collections.
As far back at 2018, Balmain launched a CGI created Balmain Army of digital supermodel avatars. During the pandemic, it opened a virtual showroom in partnership with fashion tech outfit Altava. This was hosted by an avatar of creative director Olivier Rousting. Most recently, it launched nonfungible token loyalty program Balmain Thread and collaborated with Space Runners on phygital sneakers that came with NFT collectibles.
The trajectory demonstrates how the tech is evolving from test and learn to tangible commercial value.