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Brief Published: 6 Jan 2020

Carlings’ Phygital Protest Tee Plays Up Post-Purchase Opp

Scandinavian fashion retailer Carlings and Norwegian creative agency Virtue (part of Vice Media) have reprised their successful 2018 foray into digital fashion with a more accessible, Instagram-based project. Trading on the platform’s new face-filter technology, it reinvents the protest tee by allowing one T-shirt (and its messages) to be updated online indefinitely. 


Conceived to make digital fashion feel more attainable to the average consumer, the new ‘gateway’ concept co-opts Facebook’s open-source Spark AR software. This ‘no coding necessary’ piece of technology has been in operation for several years, but has recently been introduced to Instagram to activate interactive augmented reality experiences in-app.  

The initiative works with a €39.90 ($44) Carlings T-shirt with a special tracker spot on the front. Fans go to Carlings’ Instagram account, press the filter icon, select a design, and point their smartphone camera at the spot (placing it near the hangtag automatically opens the app to exactly the right place). The design then surfaces on the T-shirt, appearing to bend and ruck with its folds. The next stage, says Virtue, will be using multiple trackers to convincingly superimpose entire outfits.

Dubbed ‘The Last Statement T-shirt’, the project is aimed at Gen Z consumers eager to make statements online. “We certainly considered the world of influencers today, and being able to service people who want to talk about topical ideas and make statements extremely quickly,” said Virtue’s executive creative director for Northern Europe, Morten Grubak. “The idea was to create something allowing you to [positively] hack the eyeballs of [young] people in a language they understand.”

Carlings plans to drop new designs every Wednesday – supporting the idea of the post-purchase opportunity (see Eco-Ethical Retail Tech), where clothes don’t cease to exist once they leave the store: consider retailers selling limited edition versions of designs via the app or, in Grubak's words, “invite the consumer into the design process”.