Interview with Tracy Wong, Founder of Voor
Voor is a B2B virtual solution for
the fashion industry, offering SaaS based
virtual showrooms to help
fashion brands in reducing time, cost, and waste
Please tell us about Voor. What inspired you to build it?
TW: Voor exists to redesign the fashion business model to be synchronous, agile, and truly sustainable. We help designers and brands virtualize their designs into virtual showrooms with merchandising capabilities. The virtual showrooms are deployed through our web-app and can be viewed whenever and wherever, provided that there’s an internet connection. Brands can thereby digitize their processes downstream to design, helping them reduce time, cost, and furthering sustainability goals.
Half of our team, including myself, are seasoned garmentos who’ve had experience with notable brands ranging from mass market to luxury. The other half are game creators and techies who have taught in their respective fields and whose works have been shown in reputable conferences such as SXSW.
When I first started my career in fashion, I wasn’t as aware of its huge environmental impact as I am now. But after working in fashion for over 10 years, experiencing the lack of efficiencies, and seeing waste firsthand was definitely motivators in starting Voor. What set the creation of Voor in motion was during my last corporate job when I learned that the company was paying about $3 million rent per month for a floor at the Empire State Building just for showrooms. No one really work on that floor, it’s just showrooms with thousands of samples that will most likely go to waste. At that time, when a good friend of mine recently became SVP for a VR company, I started to ponder if VR can reduce the staggering pre-production waste that I experienced AND achieve efficiency and cost effectiveness at the same time. That was the conception of Voor, but we have since pivoted slightly away from VR to more SaaS based.
The fashion e-commerce industry is expected to be $173 billion in the next 4 years. How is Voor bringing the next digital medium of AR/VR (Augmented / virtual reality into the shopping experience?
TW: AR/VR is definitely in our product roadmap within the coming year. I imagine the two will have different applications to the fashion world. A possible route Voor can pursue with AR is to allow the consumer to visualize product colors or other variations against a person or a set of outfit, helping to facilitate buying decisions.
As for VR, we do have big plans for a possible D2A (Direct 2 Avatar) business model. It’ll be a whole new level of shopping experience where people can virtually buy for their avatars who buys
for them. I know the last sentence doesn’t quite make sense at the moment, but when the time is right hopefully in the near future, we’ll be able to expand more on that.
About 78% of millennial consumers would like to see AR/VR in their shopping apps. How do you believe 3D Digitization will transform brands & retailers?
On the consumer end, 3D digitization, along with AR/VR, can facilitate higher consumer engagements to help drive conversion rates. When done right, it can be a revolutionary medium to storytelling, helping to illustrate a brand’s identity like never before.
As the fashion industry is starting to move towards on-demand manufacturing, 3D digitization can be used to sell without ever having to make a proto sample to be photographed. For the brands that will embrace on-demand manufacturing, they can start selling with the help of 3D digitization as soon as they have a design, thus moving their point of sale from after production to idea inception.
As a B2B technology company, how are you empowering the fashion business of your clients?
TW: As our solution is meant to replace the traditional pre-production pipeline, brands can reduce time, cost, and waste by at least 50%. We always tell the brands we speak to that the resources saved can go towards other purpose driven initiatives.
In terms of branding, as mentioned above, the solution we offer can be a revolutionary medium to illustrate a brand’s identity, amplifying their voice in any message they wish to convey to their audience.
And last but not least, what we care a lot about is empowering brands to move towards true sustainability. In fashion, the over marketed concept of sustainability is one that heavily relies on eco-friendly or recycled materials, and any sustainable initiatives are additional costs. But true sustainability isn’t about materials as no materials are really sustainable due to the carbon emission generated in its creation. So, for businesses (fashion or otherwise), sustainability should mean streamlining processes and reducing wastes, removing the carbon footprint that would otherwise be generated. And Voor’s digital solution is built on that very principle.
What are the sustainable benefits of your technology solutions?
TW: Reducing samples, reducing costs and wastes involved with fixed location showrooms, and reducing travel. The fashion industry relies heavily on samples. Now that 3D digitization can
achieve accurate, if not better, versions of any designs, brands can eliminate most, if not all, samples used. When selling, most brands utilize physical showrooms that are constantly being updated. Sales and buyers also travel constantly (at least four times a year during market week) to each other to view samples and upcoming collections. Digitizing the showrooms and allowing them to be viewed on-demand can significantly reduce the need for physicals showrooms (plus the samples being put there) and travels, helping to lower carbon footprint.