The wedding gown designs of Spanish sisters Yolanda and Cristina Perez are said to be the cure to ivory blindness. The Barcelona pair, the daughters of a bridal shop owner, and their Yolan Cris label are part of a new movement of bridal design that uses a hyper-dedication to detail to create modern twists on traditional designs. And every gown Yolan Cris creates is produced in their Catalan hometown.
That creates a problem if you’re a fashion-conscious bride-to-be living in the U.S.
While the average wedding here costs more than $35,000–and if you wed in Manhattan you can comfortably double that figure–there’s little room in even that kind of budget for a trip to Spain to meet your dream dress designer.
Which makes the arrival of the virtual fitting room, powered by video conferencing, a very exciting development.
Virtual Fitting Rooms
Russian boutique Melon Fashion Group uses video conferencing to visually communicate with its manufacturers hundreds of miles away in China. Switching to video calls saves the company weeks of downtime incurred when initial designs are shipped back and forth between St. Petersburg and the Chinese mainland for the purpose of internal quality assurance testing.
Of course, when you’re dealing with the finer details of fashion fit and fabric you need to be able to discern the quality of every stitch and seam.
So the Russian team built hundreds of virtual fitting rooms into its home offices. They deployed 500 Polycom RealPresence terminals, each with HD visuals and 25x optical zoom. That provides detail enough to let designers fine tune every aspect of an outfit, while relaying their instructions in real-time to the manufacturers, and with the benefit of face-to-face visuals. In effect, they can conduct live fittings with Chinese models and get 360-degree simultaneous views by mounting several web cameras around the living, breathing mannequins.
Obviously, there’s little reason why this commercial arrangement couldn’t be applied to the retail world.
3D Web Cameras for Bridal Fittings
The immediate improvement we can see on the Russian model, which is just your basic person-to-person video call setup, albeit with a whole bunch of cameras, is to upgrade to 3D technology.
Better described as depth-of-field cameras, the current range of infrared devices on the webcam market add the third dimension by pinging signals off their subjects to determine distance from the camera. They do this in much the same way that radar detects shapes by bouncing sound waves.
Intel’s RealSense cameras are the most commonly cited version of the technology, although Personify and even Logitech also have 3D devices of their own. Increased competition, and the practical deployment of 3D in facial recognition software such as Windows Hello, means there are 3D devices available for less than $200.
That puts the technology within reach of everyday users, and makes it possible to stage a virtual wedding gown fitting between any two points on the globe–any two points with internet, anyway.
Which can bring American brides into the Spanish fashion suites of the Perez sisters.
Working with Wedding Dress Designers Online
We’ve previously discussed how wedding planners can harness video conferencing to reach distant clients and improve the way their service is delivered by providing augmented reality. This time around we’re focused on everyday reality, and building a personal relationship with a designer normally a trans-Atlantic flight away.
There are Yolan Cris stores in more than a dozen U.S. states, which makes for a perfect launching point for a face-to-face call with the two visionaries behind the brand’s unique designs. These stores could make use of their staff to take measurements while the bridal party could have a personal discussion of their dream gown with the Spanish sisters. Or, each store could employ a RealSense infrared dressing room-style bridal booth and let the fashion icon and bride-to-be do everything one-on-one.
More interestingly though, especially for people not living within comfortable driving distance of a Yolan Cris retail outlet, is the potential to stage a 3D fitting from home. Combining WebRTC technology that allows video callers to connect instantly through a free service embedded in a commercial website with the affordable new infrared cameras would let a bride in South Carolina, Alaska, or Oregon be interviewed and measured for a one-off gown from an international leader in the field.
The customer would only have to navigate to the Yolan Cris site, make an appointment using a live video chat link, and then gather their friends and family around the kitchen table so they can share in one of life’s special moments.
They’d still have to wait for the dress to be delivered, which could be a red flag to a potential Bridezilla, but it’s still an instant connection that means anyone can have the fairy-tale gown they’d always wanted, even if they live in South Dakota.