Are virtual personal shopping sites improving our wardrobes AND our sustainability credentials?
One year of pandemic living has dramatically changed how consumers engage with fashion – and we’re not just talking about adopting a 24/7 slippers-and-loungewear look. Customers are becoming more considerate in their purchases, and more willing to experiment: see all the rental and resale platforms that have enjoyed a boost over multiple lockdowns for confirmation of this.
In our quest to become more conscious consumers, we have plenty of help nowadays, in the form of virtual personal shoppers and stylists, and they’re no longer reserved for the ultra-wealthy or the celeb set.
Sites like Stitch Fix, Lookiero. P.S. Online Styling and Wishi (set up by Hollywood stylist Karla Welch, so you too can dress like Tracee Ellis Ross or Olivia Wilde) help us curate our wardrobes so we end up only buying what we really love. They’re designed to help us attain that elusive capsule wardrobe every woman needs – you know, the never-goes-out-of-style, wear-anywhere collection of separates to get you through any occasion, from work to wedding.
These personal shopping sites and subscription services prioritise convenience and ease of use, too. They typically ask the customer to take an online quiz or answer questions about personal style, shopping preferences, sizing and wardrobe needs. Based on the responses, items are sent out from a variety of brands, allowing you to choose the ones you’ll wear and rewear. The stuff you don’t like? Simply return it. Prices for virtual personal shopping services typically start at just a tenner, meaning those once-exclusive services are now affordable.
Dressarte Paris goes one step further, and is a template for what our future shopping experiences might look like. Founded by Nathalie Neuilly, it combines personal shopping with a virtual atelier. The shopper helps to design their own custom wardrobe. Think of it as somewhere between the dressmakers of the past and the haute couture of the present, but at affordable prices: a value package starts at £50 for a stylist and design consultation, with the average price of a bespoke tailored garment around £250.
“Building a wardrobe that will serve us for years is crucial. How to understand what we really need, what works best for our body shape and lifestyle? This is where online services like ours can help identify the clothes that are required and to provide guidance on building a wardrobe that works,” explains Neuilly.
“We find that when clients are involved in the design process, they spend more time asking themselves questions that are especially important when building a wardrobe, such as the colour of clothes they like to wear, silhouettes, sleeves or length that work best for them, and make them feel comfortable. As a result, they don’t sacrifice anything as is often the case with ready-to-wear garments, and they will receive clothing that 100% meets their preferences. From a sustainability point of view, it’s a great way to avoid buying multiple items that you might wear only once.”
Minimising waste is at the heart of businesses like Dressarte: nothing is pre-made, and items are produced only once they’ve been purchased. Inclusivity is also core to the business. While standard sizing is available, every item can also be made-to-measure.
The company uses 3D design and virtual avatars so that customers can get an idea of how clothes would look in real life. These virtual avatars showcase how new technologies can be instrumental in our shopping experiences moving ahead.
“The 3D design service has been increasingly popular with customers, so we launched the first ever Digital Wedding Collection, using 3D designs, which is a first for the wedding industry and will also help keep fabric waste to a minimum. The 3D design requires no prototypes or samples to be produced, unlike regular collections within the fashion industry,” says Neuilly.
To further enhance the company’s sustainability credentials, Dressarte has its own supply chain of luxurious surplus fabrics directly from mills, and deadstock fabrics from Italian and French fashion houses.
Acquiring your capsule wardrobe – one you’ll actually wear, and find flattering – has never been easier. But what happens when it comes to organising all of your clothes? We all know what it’s like to have a wardrobe bursting with garments and still have that feeling of absolutely “nothing to wear.”
Not to worry: there’s an app for that now too. Digitised wardrobe apps like Whering – think that scene in Clueless, for the modern woman – are designed to organise your wardrobe so you get the most out of the items you own. Simply take pictures of the items in your closet, upload them to the app, and enjoy being your own personal stylist (and shopping your own wardrobe instead of the high street).