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Monki-ing Around: How Holograms Help H&M Reach Mobile-Minded Shoppers

Everyone’s getting in on the augmented reality action.

At the Stockholm Fashion Tech Talks, H&M announced new experiences it’s debuting for its Home brand as well as the youthful Monki brand.

In an earnings call covering the first quarter, CEO Karl-Johan Persson called out “rapid digitalization” as a factor in the fast-fashion retailer’s financial struggles. Quarterly profits plunged 44 percent amid the company’s searches for a winning omnichannel strategy.

Now, H&M is looking to technology to connect with the digital natives who shop its youth-centric Monki brand. The company said Monki has partnered with HoloMe and will begin testing high-def augmented reality (AR) holograms immediately.

“At H&M group we constantly work on innovations that create extraordinary customer experiences,” said Elin Frendberg, who works in business development and innovation at the H&M Group. “The fashion industry is changing fast and technology is more important than ever as an enabler in adapting to an ever-changing society.”

H&M said Monki shoppers will be able to activate the HoloMe holograms through their smartphone or tablet and view nine outfits “enhanced with digital effects.” Customers will be able to experience these holographic fashions right in the room with them, offering a new way to get closer to the product without visiting a store.

Estimates suggest that between Android’s and Apple’s augmented reality mobile developer tools, AR will be on nearly 1 billion devices this year, and approximately 3.5 billion by 2022.

H&M seems to want in on the voice-centric craze, too. The company said it will incorporate customer input in the course of developing the voice-powered H&M Home Stylist app for Google Assistant, which will offer styling tips and suggestions, ideas for mood boards and room-specific design expertise for each area of the home. The company said consumers will be able to activate the experience by asking the Google Assistant to talk to the Home Stylist app on their smartphones. A nod to personalizing the experience, H&M said the app will have “an exclusive human voice.”

Frendberg emphasized how these twin ventures are “cutting edge” in the fashion world.

“We are really excited and proud to soon release our first voice stylist for H&M Home and to be able to explore a world with a unique hologram/augmented reality experience for the Monki customer,” she said.