The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” – Morpheus, The Matrix

2020 is a dystopian year: Orwellian, surreal, sensorial.
During 2020 our five senses were subjected to the challenge of dealing with a virtual reality that (by contingent necessity) has supplanted real reality.
Ozelots are small cats that are characterized by solid black spots and streaks on their coats. But in our dystopically real reality, Ozelot is also (and above all) an agency specializing in augmented reality with a focus on fashion. Consumers spend an increasing amount of time on digital platforms living a virtual representation of their lives. The luxury and fashion industries have yet to fully adapt to this digital transformation and change of our society. In the digital world, we can express ourselves without physical limitations – with creative boundaries unlimited. Ozelot Studios utilize the most cutting-edge technology to immerse consumers into a world they didn’t even know existed.
We met them some weeks ago and that’s what they told us.

Hello Guys, How was Ozelot born?

Ozelot was born in 2016 as a record label here in Zürich. Weʼre a group of old friends that follow the same aesthetic and cultural visions. We extended our field into design, visual productions, sound design, and cultural events as it was always present in our daily life.

Why this name?

Ozelots are small cats that are characterized by solid black spots and streaks on their coats. They are typically active during twilight and at night. We love to produce music, preferably made for long and wild nights in the bunkers of the underground of cities. We love the fact that it is a small, beautiful, majestic, and calm creature – but if it wants to defend itself, it won’t hesitate to kill. Salvador Dali used to have an ozelot as his pet! A fun little fact.

Ozelot Studios utilize the most cutting-edge technology to immerse consumers into a world they didnʼt even know existed. Could you tell us more about the dystopian reality you are creating?

We love that a virtual world can open up new possibilities. You can design a person to be as tall as a tree, change the color of the sea, and in general, build things without physical laws. This implemented into a fashion campaign can open up new horizons and is an extension of our daily reality. We think that especially in times like these, itʼs the duty of people working in creative fields to expand the imagination of the consumer, providing visuals that push the boundaries of reality, creating non-existing new virtual worlds.

There are four main areas of your digital design work: 3D avatars, digital accessories, 3D environments, and digital fashion spaces. Shortly, describe all these aspects of your service.

The 3D avatars are our tool to reimagining the business of fashion and models today. Especially now that we are facing this new reality of non-travel and being socially distanced. We were asking ourselves: how could we showcase a new jacket without working with a physically available model? The 3D avatars solve our question. We can now shoot with internationally renowned models without us even catching a plane to meet them, jetlag free. The only thing jetlagged now are our computer CPU’s. We think itʼs absolutely important to mention that we still love seeing real people being photographed by real people. We are not against all of this, but we see the virtual sphere as an expansion to the already existing. And as we said before, there are no borders in creating environments, shapes, textures and size in the digital realm.
We want to explore these untouched slopes and we like the fact that we can create things exactly the way we see them in our minds. To have infinite possibilities is amazing, and when our clients get this and go on the creative journey with us, magical things happen.
The ‘virtual’ world has yet to arrive in mainstream fashion, even though it’s been in our lives for quite some time. During the lockdown for example we started to see early shoots. We’re excited about this change in the coming year!

Ozelot also creates augmented reality. How can the fashion consumer participate in this kind of experience?

Exploring the field of augmented reality is very experimental, the technology is moving forward unbelievably fast. To be able to wear expensive items from a brand via an Instagram face-filter, or to try on a rare item such as a Rolex gold Daytona while using an augmented reality app, can firstly help you to view products on yourself visually and then it can also let you take part in things that normally arenʼt accessible to you. Freeing oneself of financial limitations in this new fantasy world. We love the fact that augmented reality is playing games with the real environment, this can be adapted to fashion, to sports, to whatever you wish.
In fashion, augmented reality can increase a brand’s return sales via online fashion orders. Imagine trying on a pair of jeans in augmented reality, measured to your personal size and specs – you will never have to return a pair of jeans again due to it being the wrong size. The industry is still not there yet in a commercial way, but the growth of digital fittings are gaining momentum, with eyewear companies in the lead for early adoption.

Do you think the current emergency situation accelerated in someway the process of digitizing work?

Yes, totally! If you have a look at all the canceled fashion weeks and events in general. Zoom went from being only used in private life to the ‘go-to’ app for conference calls in the business industry, in the blink of an eye. Online food delivery is skyrocketing.
In terms of digitized work, as we mentioned before, we love physical events as we are aware of how important social contact and physical interaction is for humanity. But at the moment with global restrictions, it’s not possible. So why not experience live music or a rave at home with a VR headset in a psychedelic or social world during lockdown?
Why not showcase your product in an even more spectacular digital way when people can’t enter a show or product launch?
I’ll give you an example: In Switzerland, you’re still allowed to enter nightclubs but there are so many rules and restrictions. So people here are still super reluctant to go out and socialize? VR allows the night out to come to them.

According to Ozelot, what is the link between real and virtual today?

The link between real and virtual is based on human references and also on our general feelings. If you can trigger something in the virtual world, it’s because we are relating to something in our real life. We can expand our vision in the virtual world, we can also extend connection and exchange based on virtual tools.
Virtuality in general is a great tool, even though it can also cut out real human interaction. Itʼs something we need to master and also to use in favor of humanity without losing touch with the physical world. With our political values in mind, we made it our mission to experiment with virtuality in artistic and cultural works.

How do you see the future of fashion (technology)?

The future of fashion will be more technology-based in terms of campaigning and visual communication. Nevertheless, there will be fashion weeks, there will be real people wearing real clothes in front of real photographers, with real cameras. But hopefully, brands will choose a new supplementary reality with new possibilities.
To have the real-world working together with the virtual world is a scenario we definitely think will happen. Better quality live streams, better quality virtual sample showrooms, and so on. At the end of the day, the virtuality could decrease traveling and the associated negative things like climate change.
In terms of showcasing fashion in a post-corona world. Yes, there will again be physical fashion shows and presentations, but perhaps wrapped in an extended virtual campaign? Or the ability to review samples granted through augmented or virtual reality. Giving buyers access to new designers who previously may not have been able to budget for international travel. Step by step, this digital integration will become the norm in our industry. Democratizing access and reach in many ways.

Ozelot Studios is represented by CISSÉ