Before launching her own label SABINNA, Sabinna Rachimova worked for some of fashion’s heavyweights such as Christian Dior, Mary Katrantzou and Schella Kann. The Central Saint Martin’s graduate made headlines with her brand in February when she partnered with the Fashion Innovation Agency (FIA), technology company Pictofit and Fashion Scout for the first interactive augmented reality fashion experience.
SABINNA’s 004 collection allowed attendees at her London Fashion Week presentation to interact with the garments in a virtual world. Guests could directly mix and match SABINNA’s collection using Pictofit Augmented Reality technology on a Microsoft HoloLens. The Pictofit HoloLens application allowed shoppers to switch garments with simple hand movements to style outfit combinations.
As Sabinna prepares for another fashion and technology project ahead of London Fashion week, we caught up with designer to chat about learnings from her collaborations and the future of the label.
Can you describe your line of work?
SABINNA does womenswear, knitwear and ready-to-wear to be precise. Currently we are the only young brand that uses the see now -buy now strategy, which means that each season the customer has the possibility to purchase selected items directly from the catwalk, without waiting for another six months until it hits the stores.
We are always pushing the boundaries when it comes to communicating with consumers and love to involve new technologies that help the end customer experience fashion in new ways. My husband, who I have been with for over 10 years, works in tech and so I always had a huge interest for all things related to this field.
You collaboration with Pictofit and FIA made a splash in the fashion world. Can you tell me about all the different elements of the collaboration. How did it work and who was responsible for which part?
It was a collaboration between the Fashion innovation Agency London, Reactive Reality (Pictofit) and us (SABINNA). We tried something completely new and hosted a mixed reality shopping experience.
As a visitor you had the possibility to interact with the garments in the virtual world. Guests could directly mix and match SABINNA’s collection using Pictofit's Augmented Reality technology on a Microsoft HoloLens. Each piece was captured by a rig of 64 high resolution DSLR cameras and calibrated light sources. Using cutting edge machine learning and mesh fitting methods, the garments had been prepared for Augmented Reality try-on. The Pictofit HoloLens application allowed shoppers to switch garments with simple hand movements to style outfit combinations.
The experience also required each attendee to put on a HoloLens headset. In reality, this is a big ask for consumers who don't have access to this type of technology yet. Could the collaboration work without a headset?
There were two different experiences at the event: one was experiencing Fashion through the HoloLens and interact with the model that you see through the headset. Currently, not that many people own a HoloLens, which makes the experience quite exclusive. But this will change in the future. As the technology evolves, it becomes available to a bigger audience. Creating case studies like this one will help to develop these technologies faster.
The second part of the event was a virtual changing room. You were able to create an avatar of yourself and try on the clothes without undressing. Later, you were able to download the Pictofit mobile app and continue the experience at home. This was very well received and I think this is the future of retail. The technology will evolve and develop further, so that one day we will be able to use it in physical stores and hopefully also for online shopping.
This collaboration required working with many different partners. As a designer, did you have to learn new skills (in fashion or tech) to be able to work effectively with the other stakeholders in the project?
I think that the learning process is constantly there. To work with other partners and to collaborate gives me the opportunity to extend my skills and learn from others. I really appreciate these experiences. Our brand is well known for being brave and pushing the boundaries by trying out new things every season.
What has the feedback been?
It has been absolutely amazing! Both the fashion and the tech audience found this project very interesting and got excited by all the new possibilities. In May, we also won the Decoded Fashion Futures Awards, presented by British Fashion Council, in the category "Beyond the runway". The best part is that we were up against Burberry, H&M and British Vogue and won big time. It is absolutely amazing and inspiring to see what can be achieved with a small budget and a big vision.
Going forward, what is the role of technology in your fashion world? Do you see implementing tech not only in communication and promoting your collections but perhaps in the garments too?
I don't use technology in my garments. I like to connect the past with the future. Approved methods with not existing experiences. We want our audience to feel the emotions behind every project. When creating the product I like to use traditional hand work and methods that were passed on to me by my grandmother. But when it comes to showcasing our collections, nothing is more exciting then the involvement of tech and its endless possibilities. This brings storytelling to a completely new level.
What´s next for you?
Currently we are working on our next season, that will be showcased at London Fashion Week in September. The plan is to never stop trying out new things, to stay brave and excited and to continue working hard on all the visions that my team and I have.
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