Walmart has too much apparel on its hands and in its warehouses. In the face of inflation, consumers have cut back on certain types of discretionary spending—and shopping for clothes at Walmart fits into that category. To clear some room and stimulate some spending, Walmart slashed prices on its clothes. But midway through the year, the company realized consumers still were not buying.

So it launched a new tool that could get shoppers buying clothes again—if they are willing to snap a photo of themselves in their underwear. Walmart’s new Be Your Own Model app lets shoppers undertake virtual try-ons of clothing. Available to iOS users in the Walmart app, Be Your Own Model has shoppers take a picture of themselves in their underwear or tight fitting clothes. Then, they can use themselves as the model for over 270,000 apparel items.

In promotional materials, Walmart said customers will have access to an “ultra-realistic simulation with shadows, fabric draping and where clothing falls on their figure in seconds.” They can try on different colors, sizes, and items in a flash, to see how the pieces would actually look their own body. To make this possible, Be Your Own Model employs technology that previously has been to create highly realistic topographical maps. (Cue: “Your Body Is A Wonderland.”) This advanced capability makes Be Your Own Model different from other try-on apps, which overlay a picture of clothes onto a picture of the user, without the extras that show a more realistic fit.

Items from Walmart’s private-label brands like Free Assembly, Scoop, No Boundaries, and Pioneer Woman are available to try on in the app, along with some items from outside brands like Champion and Levi’s. More items and brands will become available over time, Walmart says.

Denise Incandela, executive vice president of apparel and private brands for Walmart U.S., refers to Be Your Own Model as the “most realistic” virtual try-on app she has ever seen. She also acknowledges its appeal by noting that the app “creates a gamification of shopping that we believe will be very compelling to the customer.” (Walmart did not offer an explanation as to how the app is gamified. This term generally means that customers can earn points or rewards in the app.)

For anyone intrigued by the idea, but not quite ready for photos of themselves in their underwear to be part of an online experience, Walmart also offers a Choose My Model app, through which shoppers can pick one of 50 models who range in size from XS–XXXL. No actual stripping down required.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you think Be Your Own Model will get more shoppers to buy clothes from Walmart?
  2. What else should Walmart try, to attract more clothes buyers?
  3. As virtual try-on apps improve, what effect will they have on the fashion retail market?

Source: George Anderson, “Will Upgraded Virtual Try-on Tech Get More Walmart Shoppers to Say Yes to the Dress?” RetailWire, September 15, 2022; Sarah Perez, “Walmart Introduces Virtual Try-on Tech Which Uses Customers’ Own Photos to Model the Clothing,” TechCrunch, September 15, 2022; Denise Incandela, “Walmart Launches Zeekit Virtual Fitting Room Technology,” corporate.walmart.com, March 2, 2022; Jordan Hart, “Walmart Introduces Virtual Fitting Room Feature so Customers Can Try on Clothes from Home—but It Requires Stripping down to Your Underwear or Tight-Fitting Clothing to Use,” Yahoo! Finance, September 17, 2022; Uday Sampath Kumar and Siddharth Cavale, “Walmart Sees Smaller Annual Profit Drop as Discounts Draw Inflation-Hit Shoppers,” Reuters, August 16, 2022; Denise Incandela, “Walmart Levels up Virtual Try-on for Apparel with Be Your Own Model Experience,” corporate.walmart.com, September 15, 2022