A True Feel: Re-Embodying the Touch Sense in the Digital Fashion Experience

Ornati, Michela (2022) A True Feel: Re-Embodying the Touch Sense in the Digital Fashion Experience. In: Cinque, Toija and Jordan, Vincent, (eds.) Materializing digital futures: touch, movement, sound and vision. Bloomsbury, London. ISBN 9781501361258

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Touch is a highly complex sense which plays a central role in the fashion journey and the embodied practice of dress, from choosing clothes to the physical act of donning them. However, over the last twenty years, digitalization and the growth of e-commerce have removed the touch sense from critical stages of fashion consumption. In the digital domain, clothes are visually accessible but cannot be actively touched or tried on before a decision is made. This leads to issues of size, fit and feel, and contributes to unsustainable consumption practices such as product returns. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed fashion sales online and brought these issues to the fore. The industry is beginning to question the dearth of sensory inputs in the e-commerce experience and is actively seeking innovative solutions. Research in the field of haptics and virtual reality suggests that technologies aiming to replicate the sense of touch might one day augment the fashion e-commerce experience, thereby enriching the way dress is embodied in digital fashion futures.

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