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AR clothing try-on, both more complicated and more lucrative than its counterparts in cosmetics and accessories, has been elusive. After years of development, that's now changing, and fast.

With a spate of recent pilots and investments, experts say that realistic AR clothing is getting closer to reality, and the pace of acceleration is increasing. For fashion brands, this could unlock digital clothing sales, increase conversions and decrease e-commerce returns. It would also mark a significant milestone toward the ultimate vision for AR glasses .

AR clothing try-on generally refers to the ability for three-dimensional digital clothing to automatically appear on a person as they move in real time, usually either via their phones but also via laptop or other devices. Unlike a static image that is retroactively fitted in a digital garment, it behaves the same way as Snapchat face filters: when your body moves, the item reacts in sync, responding to the wearer's movements, measurements and environment in a way that appears to be realistic.

Both startup investors and big tech companies are buying in. Last week, Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. acquired Vertebrae , a company that helps brands like Fossil, Herschel and other European luxury brands create 3D versions of products, for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition will help Snap further its AR shopping and AR apparel plans, the company stated. snap recently improved try-on capabilities with updates including 3D body mesh, which defines 3D shapes, and advanced cloth simulation , which mimics the way physical cloth behaves. Earlier this month, digital-only fashion platform DressX received a seed round of $2 million from the Artemis Fund, and started testing an app that lets people try on digital clothing in real time, instead of sending in photos to be digitally dressed.

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