It has been long since the fashion community shunned the traditional fitting rooms and excommunicated single-capped fluorescent lamps. Years pass, and we have come to look for alternate ways of trying on clothing that do not remove the tryer from a universe so carefully construed by the designer, but rather prolongs the sentiments and invites interaction with a fashion community in new ways.
The MUUSEverse is a concept based on that idea, and for the past few months a group of researchers lead by the Danish Technological Institute have explored the possibilities of sparking community-based innovation around the physical fitting room.
Community-based innovation in essence rests on the idea that a group of people – be it co-workers, fashion connoisseurs or athletes – who share a common interest, even if only for a few hours, constitute the basis for novel ideas, reflections or feedback of great value. To the users themselves, to businesses or other beneficiaries. If we extend the term to something that juxtaposes the traditional physical setting with information and communication technologies in online platforms or mobile technology, we are able to look at how native online businesses, like Muuse, may enhance community-based innovation for the benefit of all parties involved. So technology is one important aspect of community-based innovation. But even the most sophisticated technology developed for a community does not stand a chance without its users. Understanding the norms, needs and drivers of a community is key to actually succeed in innovating.
Online shopping for clothes have given rise to an increased interest in developing technological solutions which somehow mimic the fitting room situation of getting a realistic idea of fit and fabric. The Kinect technology used in computer gaming consoles would enable the tryer to put on a body suit which would measure the entire body and translate the measurements into an online avatar readily available for trying on clothes online, should the vendor accommodate such technology.
The technology of online fitting rooms is developing. Daring to go explore concepts beyond the realm of an avatar, the MUUSEverse addresses two more issues.
First, tryers may like to include the scrutiny of good friends or fashion savvy sales representatives in their decision making process. Advice of friends or professionals should be included in any fitting room concept.
Secondly, designers may want to engage with the community of people, who purchase or consider purchasing garments from their line. Or they may like design feedback on what works and what does not. Another issue the MUUSEverse could choose to enable.
The fitting room, of course, is also a point of sale. MUUSE does not have a physical shop, so for the fitting room to take on a form, it should be placed in a pop-up shop.
The challenge of coming up with concepts for a pop-up shop for MUUSE has been addressed in two ways: In an online challenge hosted by Boblr.com, where creatives from all over entered into a collaborative effort. And in a physical setting at the IT-University in Copenhagen, where design school students and fashion connoisseurs were invited to do the same.
While we wait for an actual MUUSE pop-up shop, we find that community-based innovation is at the core of MUUSE. It is the business of fashion, of people, designers and of engagement.