Sizing up the Body: Virtual Fit Platforms in Fashion E-commerce

Ornati, Michela and Picco-Schwendener, Anna and Marazza, Suzanna (2022) Sizing up the Body: Virtual Fit Platforms in Fashion E-commerce. International Journal of fashion studies, 9 (1). pp. 199-218. (In Press)

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Dress is an embodied experience which is dematerialized online. In a fashion e-commerce website, clothes cannot be touched, nor worn prior to purchase and delivery; this engenders issues of fit and thus, returns. To solve this issue, fashion companies are turning to size recommendation and virtual fit service platforms. Simply put, virtual fit systems algorithmically match customer body data to fashion items which are potentially the right size and fit. This process aims to create value for all parties involved: for brands, by improving customer satisfaction and reducing returns; for customers, by facilitating choices; and for platform providers, by the sale of services and tools. However, as research in online platforms in other fields suggests (van Dijck 2014: 197; van Dijck et al. 2018), virtual fit services are driven by mechanisms of datafication, curation and commodification of fashion consumers’ bodily data - which in turn raise issues related to privacy and inclusivity. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, virtual fit platforms and their effects on the datafication of dress embodiment have heretofore not been discussed in fashion studies literature. This article spotlights the growing phenomena, opening avenues for further research in the field.

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