The next frontier for sneakerheads is trying on shoes virtually

Startups in the AR space see a bright future for bringing retail experiences into the home, but there haven’t been a ton of convincing examples of companies carrying out this vision effectively. Wannaby is using AR to help sneaker heads visualize their next purchase by letting them try on the shoes virtually.

The company launched its own app Wanna Kicks earlier this year where users can “try on” high quality 3D models from Nike, Adidas, Allbirds and others. The startup just launched a partnership with Gucci this morning to help consumers try on shoes inside the luxury brand’s dedicated app.

Users launch the feature in the Gucci app, bringing up a camera which leverages Wannaby’s AR tech to position the shoes proportionally on their feet. Snap a photo and you can get a direct link to Gucci’s website where you can drop a few hundred dollars on the shoes you were just “wearing.”

Gucci is just the tip of the iceberg for the AR startup based in Minsk. The 22-person team is hoping that its tech can blur the lines between shopping at home and going to a retail store. The company closed a $2.1 million seed round last year from local firms Bulba Ventures and Haxus.

As sneaker marketplaces like StockX and GOAT gain in popularity among streetwear enthusiasts, there’s a lot of potential to make advances in helping users visualize purchases. GOAT, which acts as a middleman between resellers verifying the authenticity of kicks, currently uses AR to help consumers see every angle of the shoe, but hasn’t integrated tech like Wannaby’s to take the try-on process further.

While there aren’t too many other AR platforms focused on foot-tracking, there is the danger that a Google or Apple drives to the hoop and integrates that tech into its platform enabling apps to do it themselves, but Wannaby’s CEO says that their product is about content and implementation as much as it is about foot-tracking.

“[These big platforms are] definitely a threat to some extent, but there’s more than just the technology,” said CEO Sergey Arkhangelskiy.

Right now, Wannaby is largely working off of flat-rate licensing fees, but the startup is hoping that it can grab a slice of sales in the future if consumers spend time trying on a pair of AR shoes before they make a purchase.

The startup is obviously focused on a tight market, but Arkhangelskiy points to the acquisition of AR makeup app Modiface by L’Oreal as a sign that individual retailers are looking to build a closer relationship between smartphone users and their products using whatever tech they have available to them. Arkhangelskiy also tells me that he has hopes this tech can strengthen in-store sales as well, allowing retailers to tease new products or allow visitors to “try-on” shoes that are no longer in stock.