As the world slowly moving out from fast -fashion, fully digital outfits are on the rise. Today we are hosting an interview with the CEO and Founder Victoria Timonina of digital fashion application Robe.on - the first augmented fashion app.
- Could you tell us more about yourself? Are you into fashion personally?
I don’t know whether my love for fashion is genetic, or due to different circumstances, but if one thing’s for certain, I owe it to my mother. I have very fond memories of her in the late 90s coming home from Italy, on business, and bringing back fantastic outfits for our family. Wearing them in post-USSR Russia made us look like aliens, to say the least; but looking back at her photos from that period makes me think that Instagram was alive at that time, she would have thrived as an influencer.
To me, fashion has always been an intimate, personal story-telling process; conveying messages of what one wants to deliver to the world: their hopes and dreams, aspirations, and even their mood.
- Where did you study/work and what did lead you to digital fashion?
I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in World Economy and International Affairs, initially starting my career in consulting and finance. But, after my third year, I applied to Bocconi Summer School, I ventured into luxury management initially out of curiosity, as it seemed interesting, and I knew so little about it. I discovered soon after that this was more of my calling, so I earned a Master’s Degree in Luxury Management. From there, I went on to work in Seoul, just before being recruited by Chanel to drive customer service. I gained experience — and appreciation — for the digital, media, and CRM department, where I first observed digital penetration into the fashion market on a daily basis. I also started to notice a recurring trend in said digital penetration among other brands. Witnessing their first 3D collections led me to conceive of the idea of a digital fashion photo editor, as the perfect way for everyone to simplify the fitting process and decrease implied costs. Looking back, had I not made the switch, I couldn’t have had this massive turning point, bringing I me to where I am now.
Through personal experience and extensive knowledge of the luxury industry, coupled with insights into the nascent digital avatar market, I founded robe.on to liberate consumers from the tyranny of the fitting room, and to propel fashion into the 21st century.
- Tell us more about your company. What is it about? Where did you get the idea?
I call robe.on a fashion photo editor game where users can purchase digital garments, and fit them onto themselves, in a fast and easy way. Most importantly, every digital garment purchased will be kept, on an unlimited basis, in the user’s individual digital wardrobe, so they can “try it on” on any picture they want, as many times as they want. It’s basically the fashionista’s dream app, as every outfit that digital fitting has to offer, can make us fantasize about beautiful things: gatherings with friends, amazing dates, or marvelous trips. It’s also a great chance for people to channel their artistic sides, expressing their own feelings through clothing. Not to mention, it makes great posting material for social media. It’ll also sit well with shopping skeptics, who want to be sure of their purchasing decisions. It even works for sustainable shopaholics (like myself), who would still like to take pleasure in a new dress, without feelings of guilt from environmental implications.
But the photo editor is just the beginning! We are working on exciting new tech features, to make the digital fitting process more enjoyable than ever.
- What problem are you trying to solve with this company?
I had two main ideas in mind as I took on this project:
The first one relates to fitting. Almost half of all sales in apparel were made online last year, whereas two years ago, it only accounted for 30%. Our preference for online shopping is more evident than ever, especially after the pandemic, and all its restrictions. It forced many customers to hone their skills in placing online orders. Add to the fact that it’s considerably easier and more convenient to carry out. The only thing is, we cannot always guarantee that an item ordered will arrive in premium quality, that it would look as good on us as it did on the models, whether the color or prints would suit us, or even how to wear and pair the garment.
The hope is, that through downloading the robe.on app and making use of its digital fitting features, such issues would not only be resolved but become non-existent.
The second idea relates to our unbridled consumption. We used to think that it was Gen Z most concerned with environmental issues, but if you think about it, even they refuse to wear the same outfit twice — especially if they make it permanent, by posting it on social media. There is a great article in The New York Times, where they mention 17-19-year-old girls saying that they would never dream of rewearing the same dress if they had already posted content in it, which is why they tend to flock towards “disposable, but showy” outfits. It struck a cord with me because it only goes to show the vicious cycle of fast fashion, which only seems to be aggravating environmental issues. That being said, robe.on is great for content creators! Why should you purchase a one-time, fast fashion physical garment, when you could show off a digital one from a trendsetting designer?
- How many markets would you like to be in and what designers would you like to collaborate with?
The project is international in scope, as the application will be developed on the main operating systems, and will be made available worldwide. We’ve launched in all European countries, the USA, in some South-American and Asian countries recently, and are aimed at expanding.
As for designers, we’ve signed with acknowledged brands such as WOS, Rasario, Kalmanovich, Ruslan Baginskiy, Lesyanebo — all of which are loved by worldly influencers and are represented in main department stores around the globe Essentially, we’ve created a kind of phygital concept store. But, of course, we would be happy to see other designers; newly-emerging ones as well as the biggest names.
- How are you different from the competition?
Firstly, we dispensed with 3D and the work of the 3D designer, so that our users could edit their own photos by themselves in a matter of minutes — already comparable to the hours, or even days, required for 3D superimposition. This allows us to significantly decrease the price, which on average, stands for $7.
Secondly, we work with digital avatars of real garments, from real fashion designers, made to look as real as possible. Oftentimes when we post our own content post robe.on makeover, people can’t initially tell that we’re in fact dressed digitally!