New York Fashion Week kicks off on Sept. 7, and promises a vibrant week full of runway shows, online presentations, star-studded after-parties and more. But one designer taking this season’s offerings to new heights is none other than Christian Cowan.
For his SS22 collection, Cowan partnered with Yahoo to bring his vision to life — literally. Together, the two powerhouses incorporated holograms, via scannable QR codes, of Cowan into every stage of his new collection, from the NYFW invitation to the clothing tags on the garments that will hit stores next spring. These holograms allow Cowan to invite fans to tune into his show virtually, get details on their favorite styles from the designer himself and more. Rumor has it, guests of Cowan’s Sept. 10 runway show may even spot a few techy Easter eggs IRL.
Nigel Tierney, Head of Content at Yahoo Ryot Lab, says the innovative collaboration is all about accessibility. From the ease of the QR codes that bring the charming British designer to life in your space to the fact that you don’t need to download an app to open any part of the experience, engaging with these holograms isn’t complicated. And seeing as people around the world were exposed to QR codes probably more in the last year than ever due to the pandemic, this interactive technology is meant to be approachable for all.
Tierney explained: “People are very familiar with QR codes whether it’s going to restaurants and things like that. So it’s a very easy A to B. ‘Oh, I see a QR code, I pull out my camera and woah! There’s Christian in my space.’ This is how we captured him on the day and we’re bringing it to you as easily as possible. That was the dynamic of why we chose a QR code and it’s leaning into what’s happening in the world right now in a fun way.”
As for why they formed the partnership this specific season, Cowan added: “It’s a collaboration that would’ve been so cool in any season that we did it. But it makes even more sense now especially in terms of the show, because so many of the attendees that would be coming from Europe or Asia can’t get here. So it’s so wonderful to have a personal experience for them still.”
Whether fashion lovers score an actual invite to the live runway show or are scanning a QR code from a press packet or social media post, Cowan shared why the holographic aspect of the project was so enticing to him.
“Often the invite is quite cold in terms of it’s just a piece of text really, and this was the way to virtually yet personally invite people and make people part of it. And then it’s nice to be able to do these holograms at different parts of the consumer experience for the people that follow us, love us and buy us. And then also do it for customers where they can buy the garment, scan the label and I’m chatting about the garment that they just bought.”
“I think it brings so much magic to it, and something for us that we’ve always looked to do since the beginning of the brand is to find a way to bring our audience sort of backstage at the show even though they can’t be there, but to give them that kind of all-access feel. And this really allows that.”
As far as becoming a realistic hologram, Cowan said it was “so interesting” and that he “totally geeked out” during the process. The designer then went on to share how technology has played a massive role in his life and career so far.
“I grew up just plugged in online. [Technology] changed the way my mind developed when growing up. Today, I really think about what’s the clickability of everything, how everything works and what brief content captures people’s attention. And so I think it deeply impacted my process that way, but also in terms of inspiration for each collection. I’m constantly inspired by everything that I see on social media, but then also [I’m inspired by] technical advancements and [experimenting with] fun, interesting ways to translate them into fabrics and so on.”
According to the fashion brand’s website, “Christian Cowan represents New York nightlife redefined for the modern woman.” And fans of the designer can expect the upcoming collection to bring that life-of-the-party energy to their wardrobes.
Cowan said of the inspiration for his SS22 collection: “It’s an absolute celebration and a calling to everyone to safely enjoy life and nightlife and going out. Celebrate, have a good time, get all eyes on you, get complimented, just feel good about yourself and get out of the house! And then also I think as a young designer in the scheme of things, I’ve matured as I’ve gone on, and I think at one point where I worried much more about what others thought, I’m very much at a stage where I’m like, ‘I’m doing me and I know my audience will think it’s great.’ [This collection is] just very me. There are no external opinions coming in it — it’s wild and fab.”
Fans can interact with one of the new holograms of Cowan here and get more details on where they can view the upcoming runway show online.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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