Vans Courted Young Consumers With Interactive Phygital Experience

Vans’ 360-degree experience offered virtual try-on tech and social-media integration to increase visibility with its target market.
Elizabeth Christenson
Editor, Retail Leader
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Pro Tip: In the quest to create in-store models that stand out with consumers, it’s important to blend both experience and efficiency. Technologies like virtual try-on help consumers navigate the path to purchase within a store more easily and free up their time to enjoy the shopping experience.

Last fall, Vans Europe created “Imaginary Wilderness,” a pop up, phygital experience at its Orefici Vans store strategically located by the Duomo of Milan in Italy, a popular cathedral in the center of the city. Designed in an existing store, “Imaginary Wilderness” was created to excite visitors during last year’s Milan’s fall fashion week.

Unique from any other Vans’ locations, VF Corp., the owner of Vans, The North Face, Timberland and other brands, partnered with Grottini on the interactive digital experience. The retailer used virtual try-on technologies from Future Fashion and the talent of artist Sarah Edith, who was selected by Vans Europe to interpret the brand mood of “young, freedom, beauty and energy.” What developed was a mix of real and virtual experiences in which consumers in the Vans store, through a virtual try-on system and a video wall, could customize their outfits with different patterns and share it on social media networks.


“It was an opportunity to combine our skills both in the construction field in the strictest sense — in-store space, windows — and in the creation of digital and immersive places, interpreting the concept of the store and narrating the success of the brand,” Alessandra Gabriele, Grottini’s sales and marketing manager, told Retail Leader Pro

The partnership resulted in a phygital project oriented toward the experience of the final consumer, who can experience the world of Vans with a 360-degree perspective. The main objective was to create a unique, fun and engaging experience inside the store, Gabriele said. The interactive in-store design featured multicolored patterns and projected a positive, young, energetic and funny vibe, she added.


For example, the store’s virtual try on allowed Vans to create a “wow” effect for consumers, who unexpectedly had their outfits changed virtually as they entered the store. Consumers could mirror their image on a full screen and modify it in real time by selecting different: patterned backgrounds, t-shirts, pants and hats. Once they developed their final look, consumers could take a picture and share the picture on social media. The same print patterns were available on a special Vans’ website, so shoppers could customize their own shoes with a pattern from the store.

Cultivating a unique in-store experience is more important than ever to attract the right audience, engage and sustain community with the brand, increase visibility, elevate in-store experience and ultimately drive conversion, Gabriele said. Van’s dedication to the in-store customer experience continues to push the brand forward this year, coinciding with the contant streamline of innovative new collections.