Rebecca Minkoff is often on the forefront of innovation in fashion. She was one of the first adapters of the "See Now, Buy Now" initiative in 2017 when designers began debuting runway collections that were immediately available to shop, and just last week, she became the first designer to stream her New York Fashion Week collection on OnlyFans. And for her Spring 2021 collection, she is taking that theme a step further by collaborating with Yahoo Ryot Lab, the official Innovation Partner of New York Fashion Week, on a show using 3D augmented reality.
What does that mean, exactly? Well, Yahoo Ryot Lab used thousands of photos of Minkoff's designs to recreate the looks in 3D. And using Yahoo's Immersive WebAR platform, viewers can use their mobile devices to look at the pieces — like Minkoff's beloved maxi dresses and Batik printed looks — rendered in their own living spaces. You can even walk 360 degrees around the apparel, taking in every detail as if you're sitting in the front row.
“We are always looking for ways to bring our Gen Z audience more closely to the passions they care about like fashion, especially during these times," Joanna Lambert, Head of Consumer at Verizon Media, tells Bustle. "Rebecca is always two steps ahead. She understands how to reach her audience where they are — in store, direct to consumer, on runway, or in immersive experiences."
The experience is a first in the fashion industry, and Yahoo Ryot Lab has plans to collaborate with more designers for Fashion Week in September. The project may also lead to partnerships with retailers in the future, taking the virtual shopping experience to a new level.
On the heels of her groundbreaking presentation, Bustle sat down with Rebecca Minkoff to discuss technology, sustainability, and the future of fashion post-quarantine.
What experience were you hoping to create for the viewers through using 3D AR with Yahoo Ryot Lab? Do you see this tech innovation catching on in the industry?
The experience we were hoping to create was in part due to COVID restrictions and not having as much ability to reach our consumers through tactile, in-person events, as we normally have anywhere up to 500 consumers attending our show. We felt this 3D AR experience gave our consumer as close to what she could expect from that type of experience as if she was there herself.
If we look at the history of technology, it is slow to adopt and then accelerates quickly. A good example is QR codes — no one used them, but we had them in our bags many years ago. Since the pandemic hit, we’re seeing QR codes being used everywhere.
What was the inspiration for your latest collection?
It's all about celebrating the effortless, free-spirited spirit of the Rebecca Minkoff brand with a touch of edge, which is usually accentuated with our accessories. We always like the balance of West Coast-meets-East [Coast] and wanted to celebrate that for spring.
How do you want people to feel when they wear your clothes?
Confident and optimistic. I love hearing from my customers whenever I meet them that I was their first purchase when 'fill in the blank.' Whether it was a first job, first promotion, graduating, I love that when we are being worn by women, we are part of something that is a milestone in their lives.
What strides are you taking to make the brand even more eco-friendly?
Sustainability is a topic I talk about a lot. We are far from perfect. We did recently replace about 80% of the plastic within our supply chain with recycled paper. There are really only two areas left within our supply chain where there is plastic, and we are working hard to get rid of it — it is the bags that cover our handbags and the garment bags the clothes are shipped in.
What are your predictions for how we will dress after quarantine?
Comfort will continue to be key. Elasticized waistbands. I think whoever comes up with the comfort jean is going to win because we eventually do want to get out of our sweats. But for now, I think we still want comfort above anything else.
With the way the industry has been turned upside down lately, when you think about the future of fashion overall?
People are realizing how much less they need. They buy with purpose. They buy with wanting to know and understand what the brand stands for and what its values are, and there's a great up-cycling community being built where people are realizing that they can buy something they love, cherish it, and then when they’re done, be done with it.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.