H&Mbeyond is the innovation hub of the well-known Swedish fashion company H&M Group. Together with startups and innovators, its team drives forward future-oriented projects. After speaking at DEPT®’s 2021 Meta Festival, Head of H&Mbeyond, Oliver Lange, approached us to create the first-of-its-kind, Metaverse project for the H&M brand: the Virtual Showroom.
A central point for meaningful exchanges
In keeping with the current zeitgeist, H&Mbeyond approached us with the idea of expanding H&M’s physical showrooms with a digital showroom. Based on the former, it should reflect the brand’s identity and values, just virtually instead of physically. A space without opening hours, where a wide variety of target audiences such as influencers and stylists, customers, employees, and the press can meet and learn more about H&M and its collections. The Virtual Showroom was to serve as a central point for meaningful exchanges in an immersive environment. Targeted tours by the H&M showroom team were intended to inform the audience about current trends and topics such as sustainability and new, innovative materials.
The number of visitors, countries of origin and the average time spent in the individual areas (which can be helpful for future brand activations), were defined as KPIs for this new showroom. KPIs including click rates of downloadable materials and qualitative feedback from showroom guests and media stakeholders are to follow soon.
Bringing collections to life
How can we experience clothing when we can’t touch it or wear it? What added value does a digital experience offer visitors and customers? Together with our partner Journee – The Metaverse Company™, we explored solutions to these questions to develop a virtual, custom-fit world for H&M. In the H&M Virtual Showroom, content on H&M’s innovation topics and sustainability efforts are presented, alongside ‘information zones’, designed especially for the press or users interested in a conversation.
The look of the showroom is based on the DNA of the H&M brand, with appropriately designed areas for the most important topics such as the ‘Sustainability Garden’ (where information on the innovative material ‘AirCarbon’ is shared), or the H&M Home influencers meeting area.
The ‘Campaign Room’, accessible through a portal, is where the new H&M Innovation Stories campaign ‘Cherish Waste’ is interpreted in a fascinating new way. Here, Creative Director Ann-Sofie Johansson and Concept Designer Ella Soccorsi give insights into the design process of the collection and the campaign, as well as the materials used in the clothing. The highlight of this room are the six main pieces of the collection which dominate the room as detailed, oversized 3D graphics. The flowing movement and vivid colours of the graphics really bring the pieces to life. Special Collections, in particular, lend themselves to the creation of such individual spaces, with a wide variety of brand activation options and providing unique, added-value for the visitors and the H&M showroom team.
From vision to (virtual) realisation
We developed all of the components mentioned above together with Journee and in close cooperation with H&M. The vision of the showroom grew piece by piece; our strategists developed the concept, and the designers brainstormed, scribbled and designed creative mood boards based on the creative direction of the campaign and the H&M brand DNA.
With the help of H&M’s user insights, we designed the user flows for the influencers, stylists and journalists at an early stage, which provided the necessary guidance during the creative process. With the design ideas sharpened, we continued to optimise the concept and content until everything could be implemented (virtually) by Journee, using Unreal.
The first test tours in the Virtual Showroom, plus the positive feedback and ideas received from H&M stakeholders, helped us to round off the H&M Web3 experience. Paths were rerouted, trees moved, images swapped, and descriptions added.
An immersive user experience
The three avatar designs represent an important message: the need for more diversity and inclusion in fashion. With the avatars, users can move freely in the Virtual Showroom, so we paid special attention to user guidance, orientation and the order in the rooms. Even inexperienced users can navigate through the showroom with the help of various aids and explanations, helping them to discover everything in a playful way. Thanks to the separate rooms and different areas in the H&M Virtual Showroom, users can explore and experience the brand and the respective collections, or they can quickly find what they are looking for by simply teleporting to their desired destination.
A survey carried out with Gen Z visitors to the Virtual Showroom has resulted in very positive feedback:
- 69% of the respondents said that the showroom had aroused their interest in a virtual H&M brand experience.
- In addition, 80% of the respondents are already interested in participating in a virtual H&M brand experience as an H&M Hello member.
- Finally, 85% of the visitors surveyed rated the virtual showroom experience as very positive.
Remarkable press reviews
“Previous digital press meetings were nothing compared to this experience. Amazing space and visual execution, i.e. 3D moving garments in campaign room.” GLAMOUR
“Congrats to the space. In love especially with the visuals.” VOGUE
“Super cool to experience such an entirely new and imaginary environment. Love the photo booth to share.” FASHION UNITED
Within only 12 weeks, we created a first-of-its-kind metaverse experience with the team from DEPT® and JOURNEE, which not only triggered positive feedback from the target group and a remarkable press echo. The project is also the impetus for further innovation projects within the H&M Group. I am looking forward to further collaboration with the team and am excited to see how we will shape Web3 together in the future.
Oliver Lange, Head of H&Mbeyond.
By working in true collaboration throughout an iterative process, the requirements of H&Mbeyond’s innovation approach were optimally understood and implemented. In the future, the Virtual Showroom is expected to host events such as launches, meetings, and concerts for larger audiences, all in addition to the presentation of new collections.
“H&M’s Virtual Showroom is designed as a space for brand activations such as fashion campaigns. These are brought to life in a whole new and exciting way, combining innovation, digitalisation and sustainability. It makes me very proud to see how much energy, heart and soul our colleagues across countries and departments have put into this project. We are looking forward to exploring the potential in the countries of the Central Europe region and beyond.” Thorsten Mindermann, Regional Manager, H&M Central Europe.
Director Marketing & Business Development