A fashion and gaming veteran looks to his next phase

When fashion style game Drest debuted in 2019, video games were still foreign territory for many fashion brands. The few brands that had started exploring the space, such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Nike, were the exceptions rather than the rule.

This has changed.

“Now I think everyone really understands that there’s an audience that they’re not really going to connect with. [with] across these kinds of metaverse and gamified spaces,” said Lucy Yeomans, who before co-founding Drest was director of global content at Net-a-Porter and editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar UNITED KINGDOM.

Drest is at this point one of the veterans at the intersection of fashion and gaming, which in recent years has seen an influx of brands ranging from Balenciaga to Alo Yoga. In the game, users complete challenges like styling a photoshoot around a Versace miniskirt or creating an editorial moodboard to score points and unlock rewards. You select the model, choose the hair and makeup, decide on the location of the backdrop, and choose the accessories and clothes, which include pieces from many brands.

Although Yeomans admits the company has encountered challenges along the way, particularly with its technology platform, it continues to move forward. On Wednesday, he announced new funding of £15 million ($19.1 million) from the family office of co-founder and entrepreneur Graham Edwards.

It’s a sum that would probably have been called substantial when Drest launched, but now seems more modest compared to brand investments in games.

A screenshot from the game shows a digital model wearing a Simone Rocha necklace, earrings, and ring.

The funds will go towards the eventual release of an extended version that Yeomans calls “Drest 2.0”. The update will add new social features, the ability to customize your avatar, and more storytelling options, such as giving users a taste of the lavish journeys brands offer VIP customers, influencers, and editors. Yeomans got this latest idea from her regular conversations with brands, which she says have more and more teams focused on these types of events but, for obvious reasons, can’t scale them for the masses. The company also plans to finally introduce an Android version so that it’s not only available on Apple devices.

Next to a game like Fortnite, which has 500 million registered accounts, Drest remains tiny. The company declined to say exactly how many users it had, but said that since launch it had seen a 250% year-over-year growth in users and worked with more than 260. brands, including Prada, Gucci, Fendi and Valentino. Brands will partner with the company to create challenges that can help promote a new product or raise awareness of a new creative director.

As a game, Drest takes a very different approach than most other fashion/gaming mashups. These typically involve brands jumping into established games like Fortnite or Roblox and setting up elaborate brand experiences, like Gucci’s space in Roblox or Nike’s new immersive Air Max-themed world in Fortnite. , where users run around collecting trinkets or performing other tasks. The gameplay doesn’t have much to do with fashion, but Drest gamifies the act of creating a look.

Although the game is free, users can pay to access more items that they can use in their photo shoots. You also gain more options as you continue to style your hair and gain experience. At level two, you have access to a desert setting and a side lob hairstyle. On level four, a topiary garden and a low-sided pony. Progressing through the game seems to be mostly about completing challenges, which are all about putting together looks the user enjoys rather than skillfully maneuvering a character through obstacles. Over the years, the game has also introduced more special features, like avatars of models like Kate Moss and Natalia Vodianova.

Yeomans said players can get engrossed in the process of creating looks and can spend 20 minutes interacting with a handbag that’s at the center of a challenge as they assemble looks around it. why she says it’s a deeper form of engagement than scrolling through a product in an Instagram feed.

Drest’s idea came to Yeomans when she saw her nephews playing games and invited herself on Facebook to play FarmVille. The game provided an opportunity to make more people, especially younger consumers, feel like they were participating in the cloistered fashion industry.

“They seem like two such different worlds,” Yeomans said of fashion and video games. “But all I could see were the similarities, like focusing on great storytelling, story progression, a bit of competition [and] creativity.”

She was initially surprised at how open brands were to the idea of ​​a fashion game, even though it was often difficult to find the right person to talk to. Nobody was in charge of gaming activities and it was often the marketing director who had to be convinced. Now, more and more companies have people or teams dedicated to games and digital businesses.

Fashion and gaming are only set to grow closer as companies like LVMH, Nike, Gucci and more forge new partnerships with gaming companies. Yeomans said one advantage she had was her fashion background, which allowed her to communicate with brands and understand how they want to be represented online. The company tried hard to attract experts who could realize its vision on a technical level.

“There are myriad challenges, but I think one of the elements is just the merging of the two cultures,” Yeomans said. “We really feel now that we have the best talent in the gaming industry, the best talent in the tech industry and now we have all the pieces of the puzzle to really take us to that next level.”

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