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Voor 3D - Exclusive Interview with the founder of Voor 3D
Q. What inspired you to create Voor 3D?
A. Working in the fashion industry for over 10 years, experiencing the lack of efficiencies, and seeing waste first hand was definitely motivators in starting Voor. But what set the creation of Voor in motion was during my last corporate job when I learned that the company was paying over $3 million rent per month for a floor at the Empire State Building just for showrooms. No one really works on that floor, it’s just showrooms. At that time when a good friend of mine became SVP for a VR company, I started to ponder if VR can solve fashion’s many issues AND reduce cost at the same time. That was the conception of Voor, but we’ve since pivoted slightly away from VR to more SaaS via our web-app.
Q. Tell us more about your background and experience.
A. I was born in Hong Kong, raised in SF Bay Area, California, and now I call NYC home. By training, I have both an apparel design and marketing education. But fashion has always been a passion of mine since childhood, and so my career path was set without much contemplation. The chance to participate and be featured in the 2011 San Francisco Fashion Week kicked off my career as a fashion designer. And I’ve designed custom made dresses, streetwear, and women’s sportswear before going on to merchandising and product development roles. Some of the more notable brands I have worked on include Inditex, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, etc. Having worked across the main functions in the pre-production side of fashion proved crucial in building Voor’s solution. And of course, having grown up in Silicon Valley, the startup life is just a natural life stage that everyone goes through. That said, I was also ex-cofounder of FTW (Fashion Tech Wear), a startup with a focus on the then emerging fashion tech category. It failed, but was a good lesson that would be helpful now.
Q. How is Voor 3D leveraging technology to fix fashion’s broken system?
A. The traditional fashion business model is very linear, inefficient, and wasteful. Teams within companies and those along the supply chain are very fragmented and often siloed. Value chain communication often relies on unrealistic CADs, redundant samplings, and traveling The later two are unnecessary offenders of carbon emissions.
Voor’s SaaS based virtual showroom can turn designs into photo-realistic 3D samples with the ability to instantly visualize different design details set by the designer. The photo-realistic 3D samples can replace redundant samplings. The instant visualization of design details can facilitate merchandising and buying decisions that traditionally rely on, again, samples in every iteration. And of course the virtual showroom that can be viewed whenever, wherever, provided that there’s an internet connection, can negate the need of traveling between sales and buyers. If used to its full potential, our SaaS virtual showroom can transform the whole pre-production process to be more synchronous, agile, and truly sustainable.
Q. What are the advantages and disadvantages of digitizing the fashion industry?
A: One thing that’s worth mentioning first is that digitization, and digital transformation as a whole, has always been about people. It’s meant to accommodate and compliment the life and work of those who utilizes digital. With that said, there’s no one size fit all. If implemented correctly, advantages with digital are aplenty, but if not used correctly, there will be more disadvantages than advantages.
But some of the more obvious advantages that digital can bring for most fashion brands are streamlining operations, reducing cost, and most importantly, reducing waste.
Of course with digitization where our beloved computers are taking over some work processes, the biggest disadvantage would be job loss for those with functions that are traditionally done manually but now are being replaced or reduced with digitization. Companies should be aware of that and take initiatives to retrain their employees to take on roles that would in turn support a digitized pipeline.
Q. In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges with sustainability in the fashion industry?
A: The lack of education, the lack of measurable metrics and oversight, hence giving rise to the greenwashing of the fashion industry. Within the industry, I think there needs to be one reputable organization who can set the benchmark of what is considered sustainable, and measure those who claim to be. On the consumer end, it’s great that they’re becoming more aware of fashion’s impact on the environment, and are taking actions. But people cannot take the right action without the right education. Just like with health, we have the CDC, in fashion, we should have a CFS (Center for Fashion’s Sustainability).
Q. How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the fashion industry and your business?
A: Covid has definitely put a reset on the fashion industry. All existing issues that the industry has accumulated in the decades prior are now amplified and put in focus. In a sense, I think this would bring about positive advancement in fashion in the coming years as many stakeholders in the industry now have the sense of urgency to implement the much needed change.
As for our business, we’re probably at the right place at the right time. Before the pandemic hit, we were developing Voor as an alternative solution to do business in a more sustainable, efficient and cost effective manner. After the pandemic, our solution became a necessity to help fashion companies continue business in some way. And for those who are thinking of starting a new brand on a clean slate, we became a starting point solution so that they can establish a brand efficiently, effectively, and truly sustainably, right from the start.
Q. What excites you and Voor 3D today?
A: OOoo, at the moment, we’re working with a partner brand who’s in the on-demand manufacturing sector, which is another promising progression in the fashion industry besides digital. Their name is Public Habit. This is exciting because not only do our values align perfectly, our solution also compliments each other. We envision a fashion’s future where all functions would be streamlined all the way down to the end consumer. Our digital solution would allow the point of sale to move up from after production to just after design. Companies can sell without ever having to create anything physical. Their on-demand manufacturing model would produce for the consumer exactly what they need, effectively eliminating the massive amount of inventory waste from the traditional supply manufacturing model.
Q. What plans do you have for Voor 3D going forward? Any exciting plans ahead?
A: We definitely have a lot of plans in store for the future. At the moment, we help designers and brands virtualize their designs. But as 3D fashion design skills become more common and more designers and companies are able to employ this skill on their own, our solution will move towards purely SaaS based, putting the control and freedom back in the hands of the designers and brands.
Next, we have plans for a D2A (direct to avatar) business, further blurring the lines between the physical and the virtual world. We’ll announce more details as we get closer to that.
Q. What’s your daily motivation routine?
A: My team really. I’m one of those that likes to bounce energy off of other people. I work very well with those who are passionate and enthusiastic about what they do, luckily, that’s my whole team.
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Photos: Voor 3D