Published on October 30, 2012 | by Shereen Lawrence

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Online shopping: Feel before you buy

A close up of image of leather

Being able to feel texture could make online shopping more prolific [Harriet Coombs]

Luxury fashion brands are developing a technology that allows online shoppers to feel the texture of material by touching their computer screens.

Professor in Aesthetics and Management at London College of Fashion, Ian King, said: “Last year Hermes spent over $100 million on this technology, so shoppers may have the option of buying leather online by touch.

“Although the question is now raised, how can you tell that it is a true reflection of leather,” he added.

Eugeneie Dang, MA Fashion Retail student at LCF, also criticised the idea due to the differences in software amongst computers.

“One thing about the online shop is that there is no uniform of technology where the screen can reflect the real images and material of the product because the screen of an Apple Mac is very different to a PC.

 “Last year Hermes spent over $100 million on this technology, so shoppers may have the option of buying leather online by touch.” Ian King

“A PC screen can project a different texture or colour compared to a Macbook”, she explained.

King admitted that the problem the brands are facing in developing the technology is the notion of touch, as opposed to feel.

The New Theatre? 

He said: “The feel of material on an individual’s skin is part of the process to wearing a garment, whilst just touching a texture may not provide an accurate representation of how the individual would experience the product.”

However, King said that if they get the technology right, the impact would drastically change the retail market, marking the end of the high street.

King believes that corporations including Burberry and Hermes are looking to close all their shops within the next five years.

“The problem facing the fashion industry is the movement towards online shopping”, he said.

King suggested that they might keep the flagship stores, which would then change the function of the store from being a place to buy clothing and footwear, to an experience.

“It could be that rather than go to the theatre to see a play, you would go to a flagship store for a day out. It will be a new event. Now that is interesting.”

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