Inside the world’s first VR sewing workshop Dressarte Paris

Sewing is not a new concept. In fact, the term – a catch-all for the design and manufacture of clothing made to a customer’s specific requirements and measurements – has been in use since the 1600s.

Of course, the stitching doesn’t look or act the way it did back then.

At its inception, dressmaker Rose Bertin (Marie-Antoinette’s French fashion designer) was credited with popularizing couture in French culture, encouraging locals and stylish visitors to order bespoke clothing from designers and couturiers. renowned Parisians.

Over the years, the biggest and best of them – Lanvin, Chanel, Shiaparelli, Balenciaga and Dior, to name a few – have also spread beyond couture, focusing their attention. on ready-to-wear collections to meet growing global demand.

However, demand has worsened with the advent and exponential growth of online shopping; with the tide turning to fast and fast-uh In fashion, many fashion houses have been forced to increase costs or cease tailoring altogether, reserving real tailoring (original, bespoke pieces) for those with deep pockets and access.

In other words, until Nathalie Neuilly, founder of Dressarte Paris, decided to create a virtual alternative to traditional sewing workshops.

“A lot of the fashion and sewing experiences just weren’t affordable or practical, and I realized it was a luxury to have clothes designed and tailored just for you,” Neuilly tells me.

Neuilly had worked part-time in her mother’s workshop from a young age and was fortunate to have most of her wardrobe tailored (“my figure was never the industry standard of fashion! ”), but didn’t feel pressured to work in the industry itself for a while.

“I love beautifully made clothes, but the idea of ​​creating collections for others by trying to guess what they would buy was none of my concern,” she says. “I truly believe in personal, tailored clothing that will last for years to come, rather than mass-produced items that inevitably end up in landfills.”

Without a desirable path in industry, Neuilly studied international business and IT management and spent years working in the corporate world.

“I ended up moving from one country to another – the Netherlands, the UK, Eastern Europe, France, the Middle East – and my colleagues and friends were always asking me to ‘where I came from for my clothes and if there was a way for them to order tailor-made clothes too. . “

For Neuilly, there seemed to be an international gap in the market that she had the expertise to fill, but spent the following years playing around with concepts before launching Dressarte as a virtual workshop in 2018.

“I wanted to make the personal Dressarte shopping experience a more affordable and accessible option for those looking for high-end tailoring no matter where in the world they are based, but I was not at all sure that the idea of ​​ordering tailor-made clothes online would be appreciated by others and I had no intention of investing a fortune.

Neuilly kept costs low by investing his personal savings in building Dressarte’s first website and asking his family to invest their time in the business when it launched.

“A lack of huge external investment isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it takes you off the beaten track and learns new skills,” she says, “but I have to admit that at the very beginning my background was not worth not all. My ideas have come up against a lot of obstacles. “

Knowing that it was crucial not only to allow customers to take their measurements virtually, but to virtually see the clothes they were purchasing, she struggled to afford the development of the technology she needed to operate the system. concept.

Quite by chance, however, she was approached by a company that offered an affordable and accurate virtual metrics app a few weeks after the website launched.

“It was a breath of fresh air and a sign that there might be a place for a bespoke online business in the fashion industry after all,” she says. “Even though it seemed like something unachievable and extremely difficult to manage, it turned out to be the right direction.”

While the business only relied on virtual measurements and pre-sketched collections to get started, it’s now completely bespoke.

“Tailor-made is a challenge, but when you offer a tailor-made service, it further complicates business processes. However, we tried and immediately saw an increasing number of orders, especially in the bridal wear category.

With the accelerated development of e-commerce, 3D and digital fashion by Covid-19, Dressarte is now using 3D imagery and virtual reality to bring every part of the customer’s tailoring experience to life.

Dressarte is now focused on design packages that include one-of-a-kind creations, capsule wardrobes and wedding outfits, all of which include the service of a stylist, designer and tailor.

Even better? They generally cost two to three times less than their designer ready-to-wear alternatives.

“It was long believed that tailoring was extremely expensive and reserved for a number of people,” she says, “but I’ve been wearing my clothes made to measure for years. I knew what sustainable, conscious fashion production means long before it became a trending hashtag on Instagram because I saw it firsthand. But not everyone consumes clothes this way.

Realizing that she will never be able to compete for fast fashion prices while ethically sourcing and creating custom clothing, Neuilly hopes her innovative service will help more people make sustainable fashion choices. Even if it’s only for “ big ” purchases, like wedding dresses.

“The launch of our digital wedding collection, featuring dresses designed in 3D, was a huge success,” she says. “Not only do we get to show that there is a different way to present collections without producing them – saving on waste – but we’ve also inspired so many brides to design their own wedding outfits.”

The company’s greatest period of growth to date has coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, capitalizing on reduced offline shopping opportunities.

“The products of other brands face numerous profit margins linked to the use of showrooms, retailer costs, seasonal sales, etc.”, adds Neuilly. “Our business model is very different as we have built our own supply chain, sourcing luxury surplus fabrics directly from factories, producing on demand and shipping directly to our customers.”

And after a pleasantly unexpected year of growth, she doesn’t want to change anything.

At scale, the company is focused on creating new digital collections, with independent 3D designers, to showcase the wide range of customizable and bespoke clothing, as well as a secret range of non-clothing items that will be revealed. soon.

“We hope to become the hub for having everything tailored and made to measure, with technology and craftsmanship at our heart.”


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About Daniel Lange

Daniel Lange

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