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With 360-Degree Livestreams, We’re All VIPs for Virtually Free

With 360-Degree Livestreams, We’re All VIPs for Virtually Free
Fashion

My New York Fashion Week look this year was 'mouth agape, cardboard on my face'

Melanie Ehrenkranz
  • 17 february 2016

Coach teamed up with Google to stream a 360-degree version of its runway show at New York Fashion Week this year, so I entered the low-maintenance void. I downloaded the Coach app, slipped my phone into the Coach-branded Google Cardboard and slapped the headset onto my face come catwalk time. At the 4 PM start time, I was behind-the-scenes before the show kicked off.

Being behind-the-scenes is enlightening: I sat in my swivel chair and watched as fashionable people walked into the venue, getting their pictures taken. I also watched staff members hurriedly mop the floor between squad entrances. A woman once stood in front of the camera and I watched her scroll through some texts. They also put the mop in my field of view, so that was cool.

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Things I learned behind-the-scenes: A lot of people are late. Some people get their photos taken. There’s a lot of mopping. After a good 20 minutes of watching people hurry into the show, I was transported inside the venue. Not front row, but pretty darn close—I imagine the camera rig needed its sweet space and I wondered what lucky viewer got to sit next to me (read: the camera).

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I tried both the 360-degree video and the traditional HD livestream to compare experiences—and 360-degree was appreciably better (in terms of feeling like I was there, not necessarily in video quality…yet). I moved around to see who my seat mates were. Hi, probably important people! (One qualm: I do wish I could interact with other attendees, but alas I was just a ghost in this void). I squinted to try and make out any celebrities around me. I darted and spun around, almost more fascinated looking at my seat buddies than the fashion.

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When the show started, I was facing the wrong way, but thanks to my seat mates suddenly craning their necks in unison toward the catwalk behind me, I knew that I must be missing something. I swiveled 180-degrees in my chair to watch as the models strutted down the catwalk, swiveling back and forth, watching them come and go.

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The show was over before I knew it. I watched as my seat mates grabbed their coats and bolted out the venue to their next fashion show, leaving me behind to stare into a piece of cardboard that now just flashed an informational screen saying that the show had ended. Back to reality.

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The “futuristic” is fashionable now. A lot of tech is trying to be ‘fashion forward’ and a lot of fashion is trying to be ‘futuristic,’ and frankly, the desperation to strike that balance has historically been pitifully palpable: Google Glass on the Diane von Furstenberg runway, adorning wearables in jewels to target women, LED-equipped outfits you’d never wear.

But as we can see in Coach’s VR demonstration at NYFW 2016, it’s not all bad if handled correctly.

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Where these fashion brands can find their foothold in the future is not necessarily in teching out their clothes, but teching out the experience. Feed into our need for instant gratification and meet us halfway in our grasp for exclusivity and dangle the VIP experience at our thirsty fingertips, just a download away.

As Nicola Fumo posed in the Racked article “So How Was Kanye?“, real-time streaming is killing exclusivity. This is evident in Coach’s VR experience—I was not chasing tweets to find out what was going on in real time, I was in real time. (Also, it’s hard to chase tweets when your face is encapsulated in cardboard).

As with NYFW and many other highly coveted experiences, the insane cost of tickets or limited number of invites make these types of events inaccessible for the masses, but with VR experiences being virtually free, I imagine we will begin to see this trend become as common as the share of a livestream link. Instead of Google searches for “Where can I find a livestream for this event?”, we may begin to see more people searching for “Where can I download the app to stream in 360-degree video?”

The future of “live” experiences is about to change in a huge way.

To sit (almost) front row at NYFW, I just needed to set aside 30 minutes, make sure I had a strong Wi-Fi connection and to amply charge my phone beforehand. Total time, including travel: not more than 30 minutes. Total price: a one time cost of $20 for the headset (the app is free).

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Immersive livestreams grant us all access through the velvet rope, so long as we have a smartphone and a VR headset. In the future, if we’re all VIPs, does that mean no one really is?

+#fashion
+Advertising
+Automotive
+coach
+Fashion
+fashion / apparel
+financial services
+Google
+Google Cardboard
+Luxury
+mobile
+new york fashion week
+real-time streaming
+Retail
+technology
+USA
+Virtual Reality
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