How tech is shaping luxury fashion and beauty brands

The pandemic has led luxury fashion and beauty brands to finally seize on the opportunities of creative technology. We look at how the accessibility of tech aligns with the exclusivity of luxury, and what it all means for the return of physical stores

In the not too distant past, the role of technology in the luxury fashion and beauty space, as far as brand experiences go, would have been fairly limited. Yet as a result of the pandemic, the playing field has changed considerably. “We’ve seen London Fashion Week go digital, we’ve seen Burberry on Twitch, we’ve seen Gucci do their spring/summer last year all online and so on, all through quite immersive brand experiences,” says Michael Scantlebury, founder and creative director of creative agency Impero.

Expanding on London Fashion Week’s switch to digital last year, the Institute of Digital Fashion recently launched a project with fashion talent incubator Machine-A, involving the creation of a virtual experience mimicking a boutique. The virtual space made use of an AR filter accessible through Instagram, allowing anyone – not just Fashion Week invitees – to seemingly step into a showroom filled with the designer collections.

Impero similarly created an AR portal as part of its UK launch campaign for cult Korean skincare brand Dr.Jart+. The agency enlisted digital artist Rek0de for the project, whose creations were brought to life with AR via a ‘portal’ situated in central London. Aside from standing out among the swathes of influencer content and ads, immersive digital experiences can reach audiences at scale, “because of course the problem with experiential is it’s hugely expensive and you might get 5,000 people there over five days,” Scantlebury says.

However, history tells us that luxury has by and large thrived on maintaining barriers to entry. So how does this work when digital experiences inherently bring in broader audiences?