Friday, August 24, 2007

i-Fashion clothing store

South Korea on Friday opened a virtual reality i-Fashion store that is expected to help enhance customer choices and boost clothing sales.

The shop, operated by Shinsegae Department Store, will be the first of its kind in the world, and aims to use the country's extensive ubiquitous information technology (IT) infrastructure to help consumers pick clothes without actually coming to stores to try them on.

The i-Fashion Clothing Technical Center at Konkuk University and clothing manufacturer FnC Kolon Corporation built the system with support of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Shinsegae is South Korea's second-largest department store chain.

"Through the use of precise body measurements and personalized avatars, a shopper can select clothes that he or she can put on in a virtual environment," said Jung Dong-chang, head of the ministry's textile industry team.

The avatar is created by consumers by inputting their measurements -- including height, length of legs and arms, and the widths and girths of shoulders, bust, waist, hips and thighs -- onto a smart card that can be kept for future reference.

"Anyone with this card will be able to easily try on and buy clothes using mobile phones and computers," the official said. He added that people with access to the body measurements of friends and relatives could buy gifts without fear of the wearer returning the clothes because of a bad fit.

The official said such innovative sales systems could be created since South Korea has one of the most advanced and extensive IT networks in the world. Its companies can create digital catalogues, virtual mirrors, mannequins and advanced radio frequency identification (RFID) systems.

Jung then said virtual i-Fashion shops could help clothing makers move into value-added, custom clothes more effectively by receiving online orders, improving the competitiveness of clothing manufacturers.

In addition to Shinsegae, FnC Kolon said it will operate its own i-Fashion store starting in November.

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