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Snapchat Dedicates AR Lenses to Every Fashion Week

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Snap’s fashion fixation has the Snapchat developer rolling out nine new augmented reality lenses tied to fashion weeks throughout the month, which began with New York, the company told WWD.

The social media company dropped three lenses for New York, with two lenses for each of the other cities — London, Milan and Paris — launching at the start of each of their respective events. The visuals hew to the distinct trends that are strong in each locale.

More from WWD

What style-conscious Snapchatters can expect are a range of virtual garments designed by Lens creators under the guidance of Rajni Jacques, Snap’s global head of fashion and beauty partnerships.

“Utilizing Snap’s latest AR try-on tech, the creators were tasked with building their own visions of AR garments — taking inspiration from fashion trends within the major fashion week cities,” Jacques explained. “Our goal with this project was ultimately to provide Snapchatters and fashion lovers with easy access to unique and engaging AR try-on experiences, not only to have fun with, but also to get inspiration from using AR fashion on Snapchat.”

She advised the crew on themes that, for instance, New Yorkers flock to and what her projections are telling her. “New York tends to be driven by classic silhouettes and styles,” she said. “But as of late, we’re seeing volume and playful garments making a comeback on the NYC runways.”

Of course, this is not Snapchat’s first foray into fashion Lenses. A variety of brands have hopped on the platform’s AR bandwagon, from New Balance to Christian Dior Couture. In those examples, both focused on sneakers, the respective lenses reached more than 7.3 million users (New Balance) and garnered more than 2.3 million organic views through Snapchat’s new business profile (Christian Dior).

Footwear doesn’t have the same challenges as clothing, however. That may make this particular lens campaign more intriguing, as an extension of Snap’s all-out push into digital apparel.

The company disclosed its development work on virtual fabric and body mesh technology in May during its Snap Partner Summit, making its intentions to light up virtual fashion perfectly clear.

Carolina Arguelles, Snap’s global product marketing lead for AR, explained the challenge to WWD at the time: “It’s very difficult to try on apparel in AR today. It’s really hard for that to be realistic and adapt to your unique body size and style and fit, and for that fabric to be represented naturally,” she said. “It should move how it’s supposed to move because of things like gravity — those are things that have been very difficult to solve from a technological perspective.”

According to the company, it’s making gains on that front, but the challenge won’t be cracked overnight. Indeed, the work is still ongoing. The latest lenses are merely another step in Snap’s fashion AR evolution.

“The technology used to power many of these lenses taps into our newer cloth simulation machine learning model,” Arguelles told WWD, about the new and upcoming AR debuts. “This allows the camera to understand how to visualize fabrics — having the fabric move, fold, wrinkle the way that a natural fabric would based on your movement.”

She called the latest developments “critical improvements to usher the new era of digital fashion.”

While the concept of art meeting science has become so cliché in the conversation about fashion and technology, it becomes more literal in these virtual clothes. Because they couldn’t have arrived without the company’s tech blending with the fashion expertise of Jacques and the imaginations of the lens creators.

More thoughts from Jacques on the other cities: “London is where young designers never conform to the fashion norm, like clashing prints and unruly silhouettes. Fashion ‘rules’ are meant to be broken on the London runways.”

“Milan is the home of sultry and sleek designs. It’s all about playing up texture and having fierce color-combinations,” she said, while in Paris, the city “is where the dramatics come to play. The imagination runs wild here, and the outcome is unforgettable.”

Snap lens creator Michael Porter also found inspiration in the art world, particularly the Van Gogh Exhibition: “Rather than just create a Starry Night dress, I wanted to immerse the user in the painting so I used SnapML to transform the environment around the user,” he said. “I love that with digital fashion we are not constrained by reality.”

QReal, another creator, “imagined a digitally structured garment which contradicts with its nature simply by mimicking the liveliness and energy that you have with the movements of your body.”

Creator Vitória Cribb found she was drawn to big colors and nature themes, while Joshua Keeney made a “denim fantasy” lens that took cues from the “large and playful silhouettes of London Fashion Week and Vivienne Westwood gowns.”

Their lenses join Snap’s other Fashion Week initiatives: The @SnapForCreators account will feature street styles, runway and backstage content from Dior, Gucci, Tory Burch, Proenza Schouler, Christian Cowan, Cynthia Rowley, Sergio Hudson and others. According to the company, Batsheva Haart will also post shares to the @SnapForCreator account, as well as make fashion Spotlight posts, and Crescent Shay will be “Snapping in remote” and re-creating looks for Spotlight.