You’ve probably seen or heard about the image of the dress below (it’s breaking the Internet, as they say) that when viewed by different people is seen in different colors. Some see blue and black, others see white and gold. Why? Well in the article linked below, scientists give three explanations. The third, offered by Rochester Institute of Technology Professor Roy Berns, really underscores why brick-and-mortar retailing is not going away any time soon:

And a third factor is that it is a photograph and not a real dress.

“If we were in that physical space we would know what the lighting is on that particular dress. We are not getting a true sense of what the lighting is,” said Berns, whose graduates tend to go and work for companies such as Apple, helping to design better cameras.

There is no question that technology is turning out to be a positive thing for the best malls and the best retailers, who are pursuing omni-channel marketing and distribution strategies, seamlessly connecting online and brick-and-mortar shopping. But as I point out in chapter 18 of Threshold Resistance, the store still holds some important, resilient advantages:

The technical limitations of computer screens make it impossible to effectively communicate such important product characteristics as fit, color and feel. There are no fitting rooms or tailors in cyberspace. And the more expensive an article of clothing, the more critical it is to fit well. There are an infinite number of colors and shades and each works differently for each individual, depending on hair color, complexion and eye color – – even high-quality print catalogues, the four-color process cannot match the exact color of a garment.

So if you want to look your best, and most people do, head to the mall!

What Color Is This Goddamn Dress?

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