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Style, innovation & equality
Copenhagen Fashion Week 2020

Students from VIA Design brings Virtual Reality to Copenhagen Fashion Week

In the exhibition ERA360, graduates from the Fashion Design program collaborates with AR and VR company MANND to showcase their collections.

Words: Konrad Olsson

In a talk in Stockholm last week, during the Future of Fashion conference hosted by Swedish Fashion Council, the Israeli designer Assaf Reeb made an argument for the fashion industry to be better at embracing new technologies. The call was made both in order to find new business models and reach out to new target groups.

This is a lesson already learned by the students in the Fashion Design program at VIA Design School in Denmark. This week, twelve students are showcasing their final collections using both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

— It is well-known that the fashion industry is looking for something new, and so far it has mostly been in the form of unconventional locations for fashion shows. Over the past few years, we have had a desire to do something completely different, and as we are curious to explore new technologies, this was an obvious choice for us, says Pia Vejrup Larsen, Associate Dean of Design, VIA Design & Business.

Why was it important for VIA Design to bet on AR av VR technologies for this show?

— VIA Design is part of a creative educational faculty with design, business, film & transmedia and animation, which gave us the opportunity to further develop the synergy between some of our own educational programs.

The exhibition, called ERA360, is produced together with Aarhus based AR and VR company MANND, founded by Signe Ungermand and Maria Herholdt Engermann, both graduates from VIA Film & Transmedia.

— The purpose of this exhibition is to look at how immersive technology can complement and generate new ways of showcasing fashion. How can we optimize a designer's chances to show the world their designs and the universe build around their collections compared to the traditional fashion catwalk show, says Maria Herholdt Engermann.

How have you used Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to enhance the designers' collections?

— With VR we have the opportunity to invite the audience into the mind of the different designers. It will be like stepping into a fashion film and getting a private showing, where you are surrounded by the mood and feel decided by the designers. VR is also a chance to show minor details or functions up close, that would not have been possible for the audience to see in a traditional catwalk show. With AR we have the chance to virtually show all 11 designs in a fully dressed setup, anywhere in the world, without having to bring the clothes.

How can film narrative affect the experience of fashion in your view?

— VR is an added chance to step into the universe of the designer, without being limited by physical boundaries. If you have a collection that focuses on sustainability and fair trade, you can invite your audience into a virtual journey to Bolivia to see how the clothes are made. In the future, we hope to develop this concept and even further within the fashion industry, as there is still so many ways to expand the experience.

For VIA Design, the exhibition is aa way to create awareness of the technological possibilities and new ways of communicating fashion design.

— Design schools are responsible for exploring new technologies, as we educate qualified employees for future jobs in the industry, says Pia Vejrup Larsen, and continues:

— We are still in the phase where both the educational institutions and the industry are uncertain about what technology can do and which approach to take. Instead of being cautious, we have chosen to challenge and explore technology. Now we have tested VR and AR, which was new to us. Another technology is 3D, which we are introducing in our design classes. Technology and sustainability should be the main focus of all educational institutions in the near future.

The exhibition ERA360 can be seen at CIFF during the Copenhagen Fashion Week from 29 to 31 January 2020.