BrandLab VR showroom company sees surging demand
A Wales-based virtual reality company saw a 500% increase in profits between May and June and a 2,000% rise in enquiries as fashion brands moved their physical showrooms to virtual during the pandemic.
BrandLab, which is a VR showroom developer, said it saw an average of 150 customer enquiries a month during lockdown, up from 15 usually, and from April to June, its revenue grew 10 times compared to the same months in the previous year.
This has allowed it to more than double the size of its team and and make plans for offices opening in New York, LA and Paris soon.
The company now has 250 customers using its tech to build showrooms that are claimed to be able to replicate that of any fashion brand's style, down to the hangers on which the virtual clothes are displayed.
Current customers include Barbour and it also said that Barbara Hulanicki is planning to sell her entire collection only through her BrandLab virtual showroom.
The company was founded in 2016 by entrepreneurs Dan O’Connell and Jennifer Drury and pre-pandemic served clients operating 200+ labels in the UK, Italy, South Africa, Dubai and the US.
Its 360-degree showrooms allow buyers to view individual garments including close-ups of fabric textures with clickable links to product and price information, watch catwalk shows filmed on its 50ft catwalk and add products directly to orders.
O’Connell said: “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.
“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.”
And he thinks that the change is here to stay. He added: “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.”
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