Sweden’s Fashion Week puts youth in the front row with virtual reality
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Photo credit: The Democratic Front Row / YouTube

Photo credit: The Democratic Front Row / YouTube

Will a Swedish designer’s use of Google Cardboard break open the world of fashion to the masses?

While exclusivity has always been a part of the allure at Stockholm’s elite Fashion Week, this year one designer wants to break the show wide open and give unprecedented access to the country’s youth — through virtual reality.

Swedish fashion designer Ida Klamborn in cooperation with the communications company Tele2 have started a project dubbed the Democratic Front Row. Klamborn and others say that the youth are the source of inspiration for the designers, so they wanted to give them a front row seat to be a part of the action.

Whereas the front rows of Fashion Week are always packed with celebrities, this year Tele2 has convinced three celebs to give up their seats for Klamborn’s February 3 show, swapping them out for robots. Constructed out of wood and frosted acrylic glass to blend together with Ida’s design, the bots will be the channel for the outside viewers. Young people watching the show will have one of the best views in the house, with one of the robots having a GoPro rig placed on its head to give a 360° picture of the action. The virtual attendees can express their reactions in real-time to what they see on the catwalk by “liking” through the app, making the robots turn from blue to shades of red.

Photo credit: The Democratic Front Row

Photo credit: The Democratic Front Row

Adding to the experience, Tele2 and Klamborn have sent out a thousand Google Cardboard headsets to young people who signed up through the website. The Cardboard units that were printed with a special design by Klamborn were all snatched up in only two days by eager fans of the show.

Photo credit: The Democratic Front Row

Photo credit: The Democratic Front Row

Those who were unable to get their headset in time can still take part in the action on their smartphones using the apps for both iOS and Android.

Tele2 is sponsoring all of the elements of the initiative, including the robots, Cardboards, and the operations on the apps.

Using technology to break down barriers

Advances over the past few years have drastically altered the way that images, ideas, and experiences can be mass communicated, shortening the distance for outside observers as they can experience events as never before. Developments in the Point of View that is now available through virtual reality coupled with the widespread ownership of high-powered smartphones allow for the distribution of content to a significantly wider audience.

“Too often we focus on the individual’s user experience and we forget about the democratic part of technology, using it to help narrow the gap between people,” explains Mattias Ronge, CEO of Edelman Deportivo, the local agency that is working with the campaign.

Ronge says that Tele2 has recognized the potential for harnessing telecoms to reach out and engage with the previously excluded. “For us, it’s a way to show how modern communication can integrate groups of people who in the past were unable to have access to exclusive events like this, allowing young people to have a seat and a say in sharing their views on what they see on the cat walk.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the organizers will be collecting data from the show, receiving feedback on Klamborn’s designs and measuring user participation, hopefully leading to an even better presentation next time around.

My take

The breaking of norms aspect is a part of Tele2’s corporate branding which, with any cynicism about corporate involvement aside, is a key element of what technology and innovation is supposed to do. The organizers have latched onto a smart way of opening up a discussion on inclusion and technology by having the celebs give up their seats to the robots.

Tele2’s initiative to use VR as the second closest thing to being there is both an interesting and valuable use of the tech that hopefully other industries will learn from and be able to replicate. While the Democratic debate may have been a poor choice for VR technology, there are plenty of concepts that should be running to integrate it into their broadcasts.

Whether it be sticking a camera on the quarterback’s helmet or on the collars of animals released into the wild, there is an opportunity to give viewers a mind blowing experience that was previously unavailable.

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Gabriel Avner

About Gabriel Avner


Gabriel has an unhealthy obsession with new messaging apps, social media and pretty much anything coming out of Apple. An experienced security and conflict consultant, he has written for The Diplomatic Club, the Marine War College, and covers military affairs with TLV1 radio. He mostly enjoys reading articles wherever his ADD leads him to and training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. EEED 44D4 B8F4 24BE F77E 2DEA 0243 CBD1 3F7C F4B6

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