Curated by Finimalism: Clothing brand launches collection without a single product – “We need new ways of experiencing and consuming fashion” 


March 2024

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House of Willow

At its best, a digital showroom makes it possible to operate as a fully demand-based service. Yet some consumer needs cannot be met through it. 

House of Wilow launched a small collection of festive wear last year without a single physical product on the market. The new collection was pre-marketed with 3D images, and all social media presence was also created as 3D. 

The first reaction may bring to mind a 2020s version of a certain fairytale involving new clothes but, in this story, the consumer will get their hands on an actual clothing item – a kimono wrap jacket to be more precise. 

“We need new ways of experiencing and consuming fashion,” House of Wilow’s founders Annmari Pietiläinen and Pauliina Westman state.

The brand’s digital showroom was opened for online customers in December. The entrepreneurs took charge of the operational planning as well as the 3D-modelling of the clothing pieces. The technical implementation was handed over to Style3D, a Chinese software company founded in 2015 that offers digital services for the fashion industry. 

“We are a small and fairly young company, and Style3D was an accessible partner for us in terms of their pricing. We funded the project with the help of a 15,000 euro grant from the Kuopio Academy of Design Foundation.” 

The timespan from the initial idea to a ready service was about a year, but the technical build-up ended up proceeding quickly, in more or less a month. The founders are happy with the end result. 

“The implementation matched our vision. It was important to us that the showroom had the mood of an art gallery and dignified aesthetics.” 

The 3D creations are strikingly authentic. 

“Looking at the collection’s 3D models, some of our customers did not initially understand that the pieces are digitally created and not physical,” says Pietilänen. 

Nevertheless, the biggest challenge is in these material imitations, meaning the 3D replicates. 

“We use a lot of shiny fabrics with a metallic glow and structured surfaces. The fabrics are somewhat complex and react differently to different shades of light. It makes it fairly difficult to implement replicates of them.”   

The digital gallery space uses hotspots for navigation. Clicking on a product takes the user to its presentation in the online store. Brand videos on the gallery walls start by clicking the hotspot.

In terms of responsibility, the digital sphere has many advantages in the clothing business. At its best, an online showroom makes it possible to operate as a fully demand-based service. 

“A product can be fabricated after it’s been sold. Working like this enables us to avoid producing something needless, and to bring our ideology into practice: making less and making it better. We can also demonstrate product ideas without producing a single piece,” Westman says. 

While the founder duo feel that digitality brings added value to business, to the consumer's experience of fashion and the purchasing process, they would not have their business rely solely on the digital.  

“Alongside digitality, we also need a type of approachability that only the physical world can bring. There are plenty of haptic elements that we naturally need. We don’t believe that digitality can erase the brick-and-mortars, or the sensation of how a product feels.” 

House of Wilow’s next plans include updating the showroom for new collection launches and continuing pre-marketing with 3D images. 

Pietiläinen and Westman feel that a digital showroom is a great marketing tool that expands beyond its own boundaries. 

“It sends out a message that we are a modern business, and taking part in the digitalisation of fashion.

The article was first published on Fashion Finland media.

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