Brands have long employed QR technology to link customers to returns information, product details, or social campaigns. While these are common use cases for QR codes, there are many more innovative uses for them. There’s no better example of this creativity than in the fashion industry.
From Adidas to Dior, fashion brands have used the technology in clever ways to create virtual experiences and launch attention-getting marketing campaigns. When the global pandemic hit, QR codes even offered workarounds to problems brought on by social distancing mandates.
QR codes also offer fashion brands meaningful ways to interact with customers both pre- and post-purchase. “Connected” fashion, with say, QR codes printed directly on clothing promotes engagement with a brand long after the transaction. And, each interaction is tracked, delivering powerful insights.
For brands looking to get started with QR codes, custom packaging labels, clothing hang tags, and custom cards for packaging inserts are easy ways to test the technology and immerse customers in the brand experience.
Here, we’ll take a (cat)walk through inspiring ideas including real examples of creative QR campaigns launched over the years by high end designers and fast fashion houses alike.
1. Use QR codes for brand partnerships
At the height of the Animal Crossing craze in 2020. Anna Sui, along with other big league design brands like Ben Sherman, Dolls Kills, Marc Jacobs, and Valentino partnered with video game players who were adapting runway looks for the game’s characters, promoting them via QR codes.
QR codes on product labels often link to care instructions or material information. When Adidas launched its Pulseboost HD sneaker, it announced that the QR code printed on the shoe’s tongue would unlock an exclusive playlist instead. Adidas partnered directly with Spotify for the campaign.
2. Create authenticity, confirmed by QR
No denim brand with as much market power as Diesel is without its copycats. The problem of counterfeit jeans became so large that in 2017, the brand rolled out an authenticity tool to give buyers peace of mind that they were buying the real deal. A heat-printed QR code found inside the pocket linked to an authentication tool.
Versace is also battling counterfeits and currently offers its customers the same authentication service using NFC tag technology. As this is a less familiar type of connected tech, an accompanying QR code can be scanned to access authentication instructions.
3. Promote a brand mission or sustainability statement via QR
Millennial favorite fashion brand Reformation used QR technology to announce its 2021 partnership with FibreTrace, an organization that helps brands trace their supply chains. Through a QR square printed on its denim line, customers could scan to trace the source textiles and processes of their jeans.
Stella McCartney didn’t just sneak a QR code onto packaging or a label. The fashion house incorporated it into an oversized globe graphic on the front of one of its t-shirts. The organic cotton tee is a bold statement for a brand with a documented track record of sustainable practices—and the QR code links directly to its sustainability page.
💡 Pro Tip: Get started printing a QR codes directly on tote bags with noissue’s custom products. These make great in-store giveaways, gift with purchase, and handouts for consumer and trade shows.
4. Create larger than life ad campaigns powered by QR
Large fashion brands were experimenting with QR codes before the technology was widespread in certain markets. When in 2012 Calvin Klein replaced its recognizable black and white photo ads with oversized QR codes in the U.S., much of the population still didn’t own smartphones. But the change was noticeable and garnered the brand media attention.
Burberry X Ssense
The impact of out of home (OOH) advertising is often difficult to measure. Enter the QR code. Allowing passersby to interact with oversized ads on streets, in store windows, and at transit stops means that campaigns can be tracked. Burberry announced its Burberry X Ssense experience with QR-powered streetside ads in NYC.
Lone Design Club
The UK source for independently designed fashion merged retail and ecommerce with QR-coded shop windows. Passersby inspired by styled mannequins, were prompted to scan a QR code that linked each look to shoppable pages on Lone Design Club’s website.
5. Use QR codes for in-store experiences
In 2018 the athletic brand piloted its Scan to Try tech in Los Angeles stores. Using Nike’s app, shoppers can scan a barcode on each display shoe to pull up colorways, size ranges, and availability—and request to try it on in their preferred variant. While this used traditional barcodes, Nike later employed QR technology to launch its tech-powered NYC flagship, House of Innovation, in 2021. It has since expanded to 3 locations including Shanghai and Paris, offering shoppers immersive experiences with a quick smartphone scan.
Although technically a real estate firm, Cadillac Fairview is best known for managing Canadian fashion malls. The company drummed up press for the CF Toronto Eaton Centre by partnering with Proto Hologram. Proto’s technology brought holograms of curated looks to a booth in the busy mall—and each outfit was accompanied by QR code. Shoppers could scan the looks to find out where to shop them in-store.
I werked it this morning on @CP24Breakfast with #fashion stylist @PeterPapapetrou. How cool is the @PORTLhologram at @CFtoeatonCentre? You can check out the curated looks by Peter, scan the QR code & find the outfits in the mall. Fashion meets Tech #fashionable #tech #portl #fun pic.twitter.com/SFToB9EF76— Jee-Yun Lee (@JeeYunTV) December 3, 2021
6. Create QR-powered digital experiences and online content
The fashion label’s Technogym Ball arrives with a QR code to scan to access exclusive workout content. Dior also dabbled in AR with its Snapchat virtual try-on filters, accessed via a QR code on the brand’s website.
The classic sneaker brand has been using QR codes for more than a decade, including in its 2012 campaign with Journeys in which it launched an exclusive line for the retail chain. In-store QR codes unlocked a playlist and urged Converse customers to subscribe to SMS marketing. The campaign was an effort to reach a mobile-first Gen Z audience.
Due to social distancing challenges, Balenciaga employed QR technology to launch its fall-winter 2021-2022 collection virtually. The code connected the brand’s fans to a video game titled Afterworld: the age of tomorrow, built in partnership with Epic Games. Pieces in the collection were unveiled by the adventure game’s otherworldly characters.
💡 Pro Tip: Print QR codes on clothing hang tags with noissue’s custom products. Link your customers to online brand experiences like interactive games, exclusive content, and discounts.
The future of connected fashion
While many brands have already jumped on QR technology, it’s not too late to bring yours on board. While these ideas here are some of the more extreme examples, it’s easy to get started without building a video game or buying a billboard. Try them on QR compatible packaging like custom noissue Hang Tags, Labels, or Cards as a way to test them for your brand before exploring what else they can do.
QR codes pack a huge punch in a small square opening up the possibilities for engaging with your brand’s fans, collecting valuable data, and launching press-worthy innovative campaigns. The future is now.
How will you use QR codes in your fashion marketing campaigns? Share your QR codes in the wild by tagging your social posts with #noissueqr