We strongly believe that the amount of clothing produced today is way greater than humanity needs.
We recently connected with Daria Shapovalova from DressX, a digital fashion experience allowing you to swap and change virtual outfits at the fraction of the price.
“We strongly believe that the amount of clothing produced today is way greater than humanity needs. We share the beauty and excitement that physical fashion creates, but we believe that there are ways to produce less, to produce more sustainably, and not to produce at all. At a current stage of DressX development, we aim to show that some clothes can exist only in their digital versions.” https://dress-x.com
Tell us about you? What’s your background in the fashion world?
I began my career in 2007 by launching the first TV show on fashion in Ukraine and serving as its author, editor-in-chief, and host. Fashion Week with Daria Shapovalova was a weekly program with a focus on international fashion. In 2012, I decided to switch the focus to producing a series of fashion documentaries. For five years, I traveled to international fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan, and Paris and countless fashion events in different cities. In 2010, I founded and launched Kyiv Fashion Days, the first international fashion event in Ukraine. The main objective of the project was to put Ukraine on the world’s fashion map, and I was very happy to achieve this goal.
In 2014, I co-founded More Dash, a sales and PR agency, which was the first of its kind to do exports for designers from Ukraine, Eastern Europe, and new markets. The showroom is located as a pop-up in Paris and happens at least three times a year (pre-pandemic), and more than 100 buyers from around the world attend to place orders. More Dash is a driver of business development processes for Ukrainian designers and provides export opportunities. In December 2015, I created Kyiv Fashion Institute, the first private fashion school in Kyiv which occupies an important niche on the market: providing students with firsthand knowledge from professionals in the field.
How did DressX come about? How long has it been going?
At some point, when More Dash was already actively and successfully operating in Paris, I realized that I wanted to try and build a more scalable business model. I then understood a simple truth: the future is in technology, especially for the fashion industry. So that’s how I decided to move to the main tech capital of the world, San Francisco, to do my MBA. It was important for me to understand what is the future of fashion that I want to build, and what people with completely different skills can bring to it as the most interesting innovations are always born at the intersection of different industries.
After the year in San Francisco that I spent with some of the most skilled engineers and product people, in 2019 I moved to Los Angeles to pilot my first business concept. Me and my business partner Natalia Modenova launched a series of the content-driven pop-up stores in a large retail space in Los Angeles, where every consumer could come into the studio and create content for social networks in a dedicated space: there were clothes, photo equipment, backgrounds for shooting. The project began to develop actively, consumers shared the content created there and, as a result, returned and bought those items which they had previously used to take pictures in. It proved our hypothesis that people want to create new, stunning content that they want to share on social media and that it then drives their desire to shop.
The lockdown, which was introduced in February of 2020, became one of the main catalysts for a complete transition to digital, and it became clear that interest in physical spaces was diminishing. At that moment, we realized that we needed to do the same experience but online, and so we came up with the idea of making digital clothes without additional iterations. We started to work on DressX in February and 6 months later we launched it publicly.
How does it work?
Running our content-driven pop-up stores in Los Angeles we understood that there is a significant demand for fashion ‘consumption’ for the sole purpose of digital content creation, meaning that purchasing and physical ownership for these ‘consumers’ is at least partially redundant. The statistics say that up to 9% of all clothes purchased in some markets are only used once for the creation of visual content. Recognizing the ‘purchase, Instagram, return’ trend we decided to give the opportunity of “wearing clothes” online without buying their physical twins.
When you purchase a digital garment, how do you wear the garment?
Now on DressX customers can choose any piece of digital clothing (we already have 18 designers introduced), send us the picture on which they want to be wearing it, and our team will suit this piece on the customer.
What programmes do you use to render the clothing on the photographed body?
Our process is semi-automated now, and our tech team works to improve it in order for it to be available for the customers in real time. Currently our engineers use the set of programs but the process is changing – so by the time when the interview will be out, I bet our process and programs will be different from the one we have and use now. The current technology can not support the exact vision for the product we have, but I am sure it will be improving much faster then we all thought it would, which will give us an opportunity to improve DressX.
How much demand are you seeing for digital garments? Can gives some interesting examples
The demand is growing on a daily basis. More and more customers clearly understand the concept of digital fashion and as soon as technology improves, we will start to use it more often. Interesting fact I can share is that almost 30% of our customers are male. Also, what’s important to know about digital fashion is that it fits any size. So there is no need to just your body to clothes, as now clothes are ready to adjust to fit your body.
Who are your typical customers? Do they repeat buy and how often?
Currently, we have very different types of customers: they are just regular girls and boys who are eager to try something new, bloggers, influencers, sustainability advocates and those people who are not directly connected to any sorts of media or movement. One big part is made up of the customers, who don’t want to take a fully packed heavy suitcase on holiday, but eager to take memorable pictures in beautiful places wearing beautiful clothes. This is where DressX comes in handy – we help to elevate their travel content. We work on increasing LTV every day and we interact with our customers quite often.
How do you see this kind of digital clothing growing? For what reasons?
We strongly believe that the trend for digital clothing will be growing significantly as it helps to support another trend that actually became an inevitable part of our everyday life – sustainability and planet protection. Fashion industry is considered one of the largest polluters in the world by the UN Conference on Trade and Development. The environmental damage is only increasing as the industry grows and it’s hard to blench this impact. People are becoming more conscious of this matter and willing to rectify the mistakes that have already been done, and we’re giving the tool to accomplish this goal.
Could you see this tech having a more widespread or mainstream application? If so how?
Absolutely. We are now working on the technology that will allow us to try and wear digital clothes without additional iterations and in real time. With the growing demand for online shopping and the absence of opportunity to try the piece before ordering – the technology will undeniably find a huge response on the market.
Do you see this technology seriously impacting the amount of clothing produced in the world?
We believe that this is the first step to reducing clothing overproduction. The physical clothing will surely stay with us, but very soon there will be an understanding that it’s unnecessary to have 50 pairs of jeans or 100 T-shirts – you can have 10 times less, but sustain your digital avatar on social media by wearing digital clothing, that is sometimes even more eye-catching than traditional.
Where do you think the long term aspirations are for this kind of tech?
We strongly believe that the amount of clothing produced today is way greater than humanity needs. We share the beauty and excitement that physical fashion creates, but we believe that there are ways to produce less, to produce more sustainably, and not to produce at all. At a current stage of DressX development, we aim to show that some clothes can exist only in their digital versions. So the main aspiration for the future is to change the deep-rooted habit and put the simple truth of ‘Don’t shop less, shop digital’ into practice for every consumer.
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