- Andrea Byrne |
BrandLab, a virtual reality showroom developer, has experienced a 2,000 percent increase in customer enquiries as fashion brands rapidly seek new routes to market due to Covid-19.
The fashion buying industry was forced to be innovative and creative in adapting to the new challenges. The company, between May and June, experienced a 500 percent increase in profit as brands moved their physical showrooms to virtual.
The company develops customised virtual showrooms that recreate a brand’s physical space such as the floorboards, the shape of the chairs and even the custom hangers.
Buyers can browse through 360-degree showrooms which include individual garments and close-ups of fabric textures with clickable links to product and price information, watch catwalk shows filmed exclusively on BrandLab’s 50 foot catwalk and add products directly to orders.
Dan O’Connell, co-founder of BrandLab, said in a statement: “We were seeing fantastic growth at the start of 2020, mainly with brands seeking to improve their sustainability credentials and reduce huge costs in wholesale buying.
“When Covid hit, all of a sudden we were the number one solution. For brands, the ability to maintain customer relationships in a world where they could not meet face-to-face was very important, and we are the only business to offer this type of immersive and interactive showroom appointment.
“Interestingly, the majority of customers we speak to have no plans to return to the way things were - even if life returns to normal. Virtual reality was once seen as a marketing gimmick, but it’s now not only a solution to the problems the industry is currently facing, but the obvious answer to reduce costs through travel, physical builds and clothes wastage as well as dramatically improve its environmental footprint.”
Prior to the global pandemic, BrandLab said it was already seeing success with the development of digital showrooms from over 200 labels around the world including the UK, Italy, South Africa, Dubai and the US.
O’Connell added that virtual showrooms are not set to replace all face-to-face interactions, only that it is a feasible alternative to improve performance in the industry, especially during Covid-19.
He said: “Buyers are often restricted to viewing 10 or so collections, back-to-back, over the course of two days at trade shows. Through a virtual showroom, they could now see up to 200 in this time and then visit the ones they have particular interest in. It will also allow the industry to become more inclusive - allowing buyers to engage with a wider range of designers they might never have had the time for before.”
Photo credit: BrandLab