Image: The Richard Quinn gown made from recycled polyester georgette worn by Livia Firth to the Met Gala 2019, Credit: DREST
DREST, the world’s first interactive luxury styling game, has announced a partnership with Eco-Age and Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI) as part of the inaugural digital edition of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards. We spoke to founder Lucy Yeomans to find out how gamification can help encourage a sustainable approach to fashion.
“Gamification is all to do with connectivity,” expresses DREST founder Lucy Yeomans enthusiastically, from the other end of our Zoom call.
For the award-winning former editor-in-chief of PORTER, NET-A-PORTER.COM and Harper’s BAZAAR UK, bringing her styling game to life has been an exercise in democratising the world of luxury fashion, and creating a space for creative expression that doesn’t drive overconsumption. “It’s about fun, and play, and discovery, instead.”
Yeomans shares her screen to show a real-time demonstration of how the game works, momentarily immersing us both in its virtual world. Here, players adopt the role of a fashion stylist, responding to daily challenges inspired by real-time fashion news by styling avatars for photoshoots or creating mood boards. Yet this time, there’s something different about the outfits on offer; they are 15 of the best sustainable gowns from the Green Carpet Challenge over the years, designed by fashion houses including Gucci, Prada, Stella McCartney, Richard Quinn and Versace, and worn by the likes of Livia Firth, Thandie Newton, and Cameron Diaz.
The gowns have launched on DREST as part of the collaboration with Eco-Age and Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI) ahead of the first ever digital edition of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards. Here, the sustainable initiative enters the world of gaming with four exclusive photoshoot challenges, each live for 24 hours. The partnership is designed to open up the world of the Green Carpet to everyone, prompting users to experiment with responsible fashion and spread the message in an interactive, conversational way.
From game mechanics that encourage thoughtful consumerism to the possibility of data capture for market testing, allowing fashion brands to scale their production, Yeomans is confident that gamification holds the key to an untapped frontier to encourage more responsible practices. We caught up to find out how DREST is setting out to promote sustainability in the industry, during the GCFA’s and beyond.
DREST’s tagline is the world’s first interactive luxury styling game – what does that involve?
DREST is what we’re calling an RVR platform, which is Real, Virtual, Real. Everything starts in the real: the clothes, the people and the makeup – a testament to makeup artist Mary Greenwell. The news that we’re responding to is real time news – with our GCFA partnership we’re going to be live just before and just after to bring the magic of what’s happening in the real world into the game. Then we spin it all up in this beautiful virtual space that’s completely democratic, because everyone can come and be a part of it and step into this world of fashion. It’s really, really sustainable, because people are going on that journey of fashion discovery, but no one is shooting anything; we pull the product from the brands’ APIs and we allow our users to come and create the content. You can play, you can experiment in this place. Then you’re pushed back into the real world, which we hope will lead to more thoughtful consumption, because our users have developed a brand affinity but in a really nice, democratic and sustainable way.
Why did you set out to bring gamification into the fashion industry?
I came up with the idea of DREST a response to lots of things that I was seeing in the industry. I was editing Harper’s BAZAAR UK for 13 years, and then when I went to NET-A-PORTER.COM, I saw all these things that made me reflect on the way I was communicating. I could see the way people consume media had completely changed, and luxury brands were having to tell their stories to a new generation who wanted something that was more interactive, more engaging. Somewhere they felt that they could share their point of view rather than just listening to an elite few talk about what was fashionable or what was not. And for me, gamification held a lot of the answers.
Why are you excited to partner with the Green Carpet Fashion Awards?
I think we share so many of the same goals. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Livia and working with her on a couple of projects over the last 10 years. Everything that Eco-Age does is driving new solutions; it’s innovating, it’s future thinking. But what excites me about gaming is the ability to get the Green Carpet message out to a broader audience, perhaps an audience that perhaps doesn’t know about it yet. Gaming provides a certain level of engagement that I think will help us really inspire and teach a new generation about the incredible work Eco-Age and the GCFAs are doing.
You’ve created four exclusive challenges for the GCFAs. How do the challenges work and how can people take part?
We have recreated 15 gowns from the Green Carpet Challenge archive in DREST, along with exclusive GCC photoshoot locations, featuring Aquafil’s Green Carpet made from ECONYL®. You start by choosing your avatar, and then pick the dress and location. We’ve asked users that all the other elements of the outfit, such as jewellery or shoes, are from the brands that have our conscious tag on DREST. After you’ve submitted, the looks go into what we call our ‘Look Rater’ for 24 hours. The users get their score back and they receive a Green Carpet gift box, in which they are will be gifted another piece of conscious fashion. We want to really make people feel as close to that Green Carpet experience as possible, and really start to understand the beauty and value and importance of these amazing conscious brands.
Do you have a favourite of the sustainable gowns, that will appear on DREST?
It’s hard, they are all so beautiful! I love the Cameron Diaz Stella McCartney, that is definitely up there. The Vivienne Westwood on Thandie Newton is amazing too. Also the Carolina Herrera that Livia wore in 2014, one of the early ones. I love the fact that when I look at the line-up of designers, from Richard Quinn, who is the absolute cutting edge of London design, to the wonderful Stella McCartney, who is a champion of this herself, to the Gucci, the Prada, Armani, Versace, you can really see the range of brands that Livia has managed to engage.
Sustainability is a core tenet of DREST. How does this manifest in your work, and what are the advantages of digital fashion on a sustainability level?
I think digital content creation, without polluting the environment, has to be one. It allows people to come explore, discover; I think that is really important. The second one is thoughtful consumerism, so that people can really experiment and style virtually before they buy in real life. Then there’s having gaming mechanics that encourage that sustainable approach. Everything that we do in DREST follows the fashion narrative very smartly; for example, our ‘Renew Unworn’ feature is based around the idea that if you’ve worn something and you love it, you wear it again, and you pay a quarter of the price to get the same score. It’s a really nice mechanic which gets into the cost per wear idea.
How can gamification help the fashion industry shift towards more sustainable practices?
As part of the real outcome from this, we’d like to try and test product before it goes into production and see whether it works in that market, so that brands can scale their production going forward and make smart choices based on consumer desires in different territories. We’ve talked to a lot of brands who are excited because we’ll have this global audience, and we’re already starting to see trends that would help us gauge consumer interest to ensure that there’s less unnecessary waste around production.
This year, we’ve seen digital fashion take off in a way that no one had really ever seen before. So how do you see the future of digital fashion shaping over the next 10 years?
I think that the ability to harness technology and to involve the customer more closely is going to democratise the luxury fashion discovery experience, which has been quite exclusive for a long time. I think Spring Summer 2021 has probably been the season of everyone trying to get the hang of it and work out how to innovate. But when you start digging into those worlds, there is so much potential, so much possibility. I feel that the technology is there to be harnessed and to delight and surprise and engage our audiences in an even more fantastical way than then the industry has done so far. So that’s the potential for me.