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Brief Published: 18 Mar 2021

H&M x Simone Rocha: AR Pop-Up Book

Adding to the renewed excitement about the creative possibilities of augmented reality (AR) tech in both retail and publishing, H&M has teamed up with British painter Faye Wei Wei for the release of Irish fashion designer Simone Rocha’s collection with the brand. Their AR pop-up book adds layers of fantasy and theatre to the remote launch.

Sent to press, buyers and industry insiders, the limited-edition book of pop-up landscapes features five of Wei Wei’s dreamlike paintings, chosen by herself and Rocha from her archive to echo the intensity of the designer’s garments.

Scanning on-page QR codes with a mobile device reveals a cast of musicians, artists, models and dancers that spring out from the book’s pages (in AR, on-screen) as diminutive, 10.5cm tall figures. Dressed in the collection – a typically edgy, romanticised mix of eyelet dresses and Aran knits – they begin dancing, reading and chilling out in the duo’s magical world.

A diverse cast apparently selected for their shared trait – kindness – includes LA-based singer Kelsey Lu, iconic English actress Helena Bonham Carter, American supermodel Kaia Gerber, and British-American plus-size model Paloma Elsesser. Their performances were captured using Microsoft Mixed Reality Capture technology led by London XR studio Dimension and LA XR studio Metastage.

The project succeeds a standout piece of ‘blended reality’ art direction from Vogue Portugal. It released a high summer cover in 2020 that readers could scan with their mobile device (using an app by Lighthouse Publishing) in order to watch a model swim around in AR. Adding fresh relevance to printed media in the digital age, expect AR to become a staple of retail and publishing – in 2020 in the US alone, an estimated 83.1 million people used AR at least once per month (eMarketer, 2020).

For more inventive uses of extended reality, see At-Home XR in Digital Commerce: 10 Trends & Opportunities, 21/22 and Retail’s Unreal Opportunities.

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