Daria Shapovalova & Natalia Modenova, DRESSX: “We are sure that in the future, Ukraine has all the potential to become Europe’s biggest tech hub”

Founded less than 2 years ago by Ukrainians Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova, today DRESSX is the largest platform for digital-only clothes, NFT fashion items, and AR looks.

The team is groundbreakers and trendsetters of the industry. DRESSX is a finalist of the LVMH Innovation Award 2022 and its founders Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova were named America’s greatest disruptors 2021 by Newsweek.

Being environmental advocates, the DRESSX team introduces a new approach to experiencing and consuming fashion. In 2020, Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova presented the first report on Sustainability in Digital fashion at Fashion Tech Summit in partnership with the United Nations Environmental Program, Fashion for Good, and Fashion Revolution.

We asked the DRESSX team about the future of fashion & tech & sustainability, partnership with Meta & LVMH Group, metaverse, and supporting and promoting Ukraine globally.

TechUkraine: DRESSX is the trendsetter and front runner in the digital fashion industry globally; when and how was the idea of the project born?

Daria Shapovalova: After 15 years in the traditional fashion industry, we realized that we want to contribute to its significant shift to a more sustainable, affordable and digital future.

It is not a secret anymore that the fashion industry is considered one of the largest polluters in the world. The production and distribution of the fibers and garments used in fashion all contribute to different forms of environmental pollution, including water, air, and soil pollution, while overproduction and overconsumption of the fashion items are among the main factors creating the pollution.

Barclays Bank research has shown that 9% of customers in some developed countries only buy new clothes to make a picture for their social media only to return them later, and while we genuinely share the beauty and excitement that physical fashion creates, we believe that there are ways to produce less, produce more ethically, or not produce at all. 

Natalia Modenova: Being previously in media and fashion businesses, we understood that the future of fashion (same as of all the other fields) is in the intersection with technology and that was a big driver to start DRESSX.

Also, having done our own research, we were able to discover that production of a digital garment emits 97% less of CO2 than production of a physical garment. We also don’t need any water during the production of the digital items (besides the water our team drinks on a daily basis), and thus production of a digital garment, on average, saves 3300 liters of water per item, which is enough for one person to drink 2 liters per day during 3,5 years.

By substituting just 1% of physical clothing with digital garments we will save 5 trillion liters of water and eliminate the annual carbon footprint of the fashion industry by 35 mln tons, which is equal to the total carbon emission of Denmark in 2017.

Just imagine, all of this can be done by switching 1% of our wardrobes to digital! That’s a contribution to our planet that everyone can handle, while still keeping fashion fun and enjoying the thrill of buying new clothes and creating amazing fashion content.

TechUkraine: In June, DRESSX became the finalist of the LVMH Innovation Award 2022 in the 3D/Virtual Product Experience & Metaverse category among 950 companies as innovative and merging fashion and tech. Tell us more about this experience and further partnership with LVMH in the metaverse.

Daria Shapovalova: We were honored to have DRESSX selected as a finalist of LVMH Innovation Award 2022 among 21 most progressive startups around the globe. Founded less than 2 years ago, it’s a huge accomplishment that our vision is shared by the industry’s biggest players, and we were very grateful for this opportunity to share our version of the future with the world’s leading companies, brands and innovators at the VivaTech ceremony in June this year.

Natalia Modenova:

As an award finalist, we are continuing to work with LVMH Group, becoming a part of Maisons des Startups and receiving mentorship from the LVMH Innovation Team for the next year.

Our schedule is packed with events and workshops, which we believe will help DRESSX to boost its performance and launch digital projects in luxury fashion very soon.

TechUkraine: Recently, within the news that creative director of BALENCIAGA Demna Gvasalia is becoming an ambassador of charitable donations in support of Ukraine United24, you said: “Fashion industry should be proactive, should reflect a sense of times and definitely not to pretend as if “nothing is happening, we are about beauty and great clothes.” Clothes can help to raise awareness, help you to talk, to express your views, and to inspire others.” Could you tell us more about DRESSX during wartime? How do you tackle the challenges?

Daria Shapovalova:

DRESSX is a company established by Ukrainian founders, and some of our colleagues and their families are currently staying in Ukraine.

Having team members from across the world, including USA, France, Morocco, Romania, Spain, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Russia, Dominicana and more, we all stand for Ukraine and we make our position very clear in the industry.

  • When the war started, we immediately launched a charity initiative to incentivize our community to donate money while purchasing and wearing digital fashion to support Ukraine, where 100% of proceeds are donated to various funds and 3D designers to support the community. The collection has already been supported by numerous celebrities and influencers worldwide, including Madonna, who shared a picture in the Ukrainian-flag dress on her Instagram.
  • In March 2022, we launched our DRESSX NFT Marketplace and we dedicated the first drop to supporting Ukraine, making it a fundraiser for the needs of Ukrainian charities and individual creatives.
  • We also partnered with the one of the largest crypto exchanges Crypto.com to launch a Ukrainian-themed drop with DRESSX on their platform – the drop has been fully sold out, with proceeds donated to Ukrainian charities.
  • Finally, DRESSX announced financial aid for the Ukrainian creatives, who suffered from Russian military aggression in Ukraine – we issued the form when those in need of help can share their circumstances and receive the support they need directly from DRESSX and raised donations from the Fashion for Peace NFTs and Support Ukraine Collection.

Natalia Modenova: We believe that our voice and the voices of every person, influencer, brand, or company, have as much power as a real weapon on the battlefield.

In critical situations like this, when cities get shelled and civilians killed everyday, there is no ‘neutral position’ – you either stand for the truth or support the war.

We appreciate every little or big action of support from our community and encourage everyone to support and keep supporting Ukraine – either by spreading a word, donating to a selected charity, helping Ukrainian friends, going on protests, reaching out to your elected representatives or doing anything else which can make a difference and help Ukrainian people to survive this terrible war. 

Overall, we have already donated over $35K to support Ukraine and continue to raise more through numerous initiatives and charitable drops.

TechUkraine: A few weeks ago, during a live stream announcing the Meta marketplace Mark Zuckerberg said: “By putting faith in DRESSX, Meta is able to expand its reach in the fashion community and tap into the sector that is already engaged with digital fashion.” Who was the initiator of this collaboration, and what’s next for DRESSX in this campaign?

Daria Shapovalova: We’ve been following Meta’s journey in the digital world for a while, seeing a great match between the company’s goals and DRESSX unique expertise in the space.

Being one of the first builders of the digital fashion industry and having a vast experience creating digital wardrobes for the metaverse, we have been discussing the potential collaboration for almost a year, aligning our vision and making sure the debut collection for Meta’s avatar store is very easy and understandable for the users.

Natalia Modenova: Fashion is a universal visual language, and we are honored to empower people creating avatars on Meta’s platforms with endless possibilities for expressing themselves in the digital world.

DRESSX digital fashion drops will be rolled out monthly on Meta, and we already cannot wait to show you the next collection coming up very soon!

TechUkraine: Last year Newsweek featured DRESSX as one of America’s greatest disruptors among fifty visionaries, innovators, and pioneers who are transforming the world through technology. Being a mission-driven company, what are your priorities today, and how do you plan to achieve your goals?

Daria Shapovalova: Our goal is to give a Metacloset to every person in the world.

Natalia Modenova: We believe that in the future every fashion brand – luxury, haute couture, streetwear, everyone – will own a digital fashion line. Same as sneakers disrupted fashion anad every brand – from mass market to high luxury has it in their line, there are ultra expensive and very affordable sneakers, there are super rare and exclusive ones and the most spread and recognizble ones.

Digital fashion will become a new way for customers to enter the fashion world, discovering the new way to shop, reducing their environmental footprint, and experiencing the same excitement from wearing and owning designer pieces in digital.

TechUkraine: From the lens of the Ukrainian tech founder, which tech companies, startups, and initiatives are ambassadors of Ukraine worldwide?

Natalia Modenova: I recommend to follow “Spend with Ukraine” initiative, which highlights all kinds of startups that are born in Ukraine.

On the other hand the world knows that Ukraine as a population and its current government are very aligned and I have to say that each Ukrainian is proud of what The Ministry of Digital transformation has built for its citizens. Digital IDs, public services online – this dynamic of development is impressive.

TechUkraine: What do you think about the Ukrainian tech industry and the potential for the sphere in the near future?

Daria Shapovalova: Ukrainian tech scene has recently been booming with new projects and brave ideas. It is common knowledge that some of the most talented programmers and developers come specifically from Ukraine, as well as some of the boldest ideas constantly being created in our country.

I am sure that in the future, Ukraine has all the potential to become Europe’s biggest tech hub.

Natalia Modenova: While now lots of professionals had to restructure their operations or even leave the country due to the war, we are sure that the tech industry will be one of the main drivers to rebuild Ukraine and promote it as the new hub for tech talents.

From our end, we are continuously supporting our country both with funds, and also by working with Ukrainian professionals worldwide.

We are proud to be a fashion tech company established by Ukrainian founders and team members and we are doing our best to continue promoting our country’s modern legacy in all of the projects performed by the DRESSX team.

I believe in a bright future, where Ukraine will not only supply talent, but also products in tech. 

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