BrandLab, a virtual reality (VR) company based in Wales, has experienced a significant surge in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As fashion brands transitioned their physical showrooms to virtual platforms, BrandLab witnessed a 500% increase in profits between May and June, along with a staggering 2,000% rise in enquiries. During the lockdown period, the company received an average of 150 customer enquiries per month, compared to its usual 15. Additionally, BrandLab’s revenue grew tenfold from April to June compared to the previous year, leading to plans for new offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Paris.

The VR technology developed by BrandLab allows fashion brands to create virtual showrooms that mimic their unique style, right down to the hangers upon which virtual garments are displayed. Brands such as Barbour and fashion designer Barbara Hulanicki have already utilized BrandLab’s services, with Hulanicki planning to exclusively sell her collection through the virtual showroom. Established in 2016 by Dan O’Connell and Jennifer Drury, BrandLab has previously served over 200 labels across several countries, including the UK, Italy, South Africa, Dubai, and the US.

BrandLab’s 360-degree showrooms provide buyers with an immersive experience, allowing them to view individual garments, examine fabric textures up close, access product and price information through clickable links, watch catwalk shows on a 50ft catwalk, and add products directly to their orders. O’Connell notes that the company was already experiencing growth in early 2020, driven by brands seeking sustainable solutions and reduced wholesale buying costs. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, BrandLab became the go-to solution for brands looking to maintain customer relationships in a world where face-to-face interactions were restricted. Many of the company’s customers have expressed interest in continuing to use virtual reality showrooms even after the pandemic ends. Virtual reality has shifted from being seen as a marketing gimmick to a practical solution that not only reduces costs and clothing waste but also improves the industry’s environmental footprint.

O’Connell anticipates that the shift towards virtual showrooms will be a lasting change. He highlights the limited access buyers have at trade shows, in contrast to virtual showrooms where they can explore up to 200 collections in the same timeframe and then choose the ones they are interested in visiting. Virtual showrooms also promote inclusivity by allowing buyers to engage with a wider range of designers they may not have previously had the opportunity to connect with.

The success and rapid growth of BrandLab reflect the increasing acceptance and adoption of virtual reality technology in the fashion industry. As more brands recognize the benefits of virtual showrooms, it is clear that this transformative trend is here to stay. Virtual reality is revolutionizing the way fashion is showcased, purchased, and experienced by providing an immersive and convenient experience for both brands and buyers.

Useful links:
1. BrandLab – Official Website
2. Barbour – Official Website