Talking about virtual fitting rooms in New Orleans

I’m leaving for New Orleans Thursday to give a paper on the social codes and values embedded in virtual fitting room programs like My Best Fit at the Association of Asian American Studies conference. The paper draws on a Good Morning America clip about My Best Fit which aired in April 2011 (posted below) as well as a 2007 evolutionary psychology study that purported to contain scientific evidence verifying the maxim that “women are born to shop”. I examine both for what they reveal about the convergence of science and consumerism in the cultural and social construction of femininity and womanhood.

As I was completing the paper this afternoon, my friend Judy Rohrer sent me Eli Pariser’s TED talk on “filter bubbles” that I found incredibly useful for thinking about virtual fitting rooms. Pariser doesn’t mention fashion technologies as such but his comments about the “filter bubble” raise really important points that clearly apply to virtual fitting rooms and other technologies based on mass customization. In fact, because digital fashion media (from blogs and apps to fashion search engines, e-tailers, and virtual fitting rooms) are increasingly focused on tailoring information about fashion, beauty, style, and shopping to individual consumers – this is one of the revolutions in fashion’s digital revolution – Pariser’s concerns about Web 2.0  turning into a “Web of one” has real implications that fashion media producers, consumers, and prosumers should heed. By the way, the YouTube headline (“Beware”) for Pariser’s talk is ridiculously salacious. Pariser’s no technophobe; I actually think he’s a techno-optimist. I’ll post an abridged version of the paper when I get back from NOLA. For now, the videos!



6 responses to “Talking about virtual fitting rooms in New Orleans

  1. i heard about that machine that will tell women which size they are at all stores- such a stupid contraption! really??

    and i am astonished to hear that there is scientific proof that women are born to shop. ridiculous!


  2. Great post! I had read about both the Pariser TED talk and My Best Fit, but I hadn’t seen either of those videos. Thank you for including them.

    Evolutionary psychologists really piss me off. Best of luck in New Orleans!

  3. Very interesting!

    I’m writing from which makes Virtual Fitting Rooms – not for social shopping, but to get the sizing right. However, we do notice how people tend to choose their clothing tighter fitting, or more generously fitting and we do see the social implications behind these decisions.

    I’d love to see more of your paper.

  4. Prof,
    Wish I had known you’d be down here – I would have shown you around!

    • I was there only for a short time but managed to eat some really great food – Cafe Beignet, Cochon, and Restaurant August. Would’ve been great to get your recommendations!

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