Launching back in 2019 DREST has helped to bring the fashion and gaming worlds together, with 250% year-on year user growth and positive engagement among players the title is now ready to expand in 2023 with “The new and improved version of DREST.”
We spoke with the CEO of DREST, Lisa Bridgett, on how gaming has been a perfect fit for luxury fashion styling and how brands have embraced the mobile title.
We also discuss the future of DREST with an upcoming update and how fashion and style meet the metaverse.
Where did the initial idea for DREST come from?
Lisa Bridgett: The initial idea for DREST came from a desire to open up to everyone, everywhere the worlds of luxury fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Our Founder Lucy Yeomans, a content visionary with over 20 years of publishing experience, developed the idea. She was always passionate about creating inspiring content that people would connect with.
Lucy became fascinated with the world of gaming and saw a lot of similarities between fashion and gaming, both are very creative industries, with storytelling, self-expression and fantasy at their heart. She loved the interactivity that games offer and the idea that players are able to be part of the storytelling rather than just passively consume it - thus the idea of DREST was born.
DREST launched back in 2019 how would you reflect on its performance and growth since then?
It’s been such an exciting ride since 2019! Shortly after launch, we experienced a 250% year-on-year user growth but also very positive engagement rates within the game, especially compared to those of e-commerce and publishing apps.
Our players are on DREST for an average of over 37 minutes per session, which is unusually high for a mobile appLisa Bridgett
There have been so many highs on this journey, as well as hard learnings. When we launched, we were concerned about fashion brands being willing to work with us on something that back in 2019, was a very new concept for most of them. The reception the game received from the luxury fashion industry was however overwhelmingly positive. The vast majority of brands immediately got on board and today we have over 280 fashion and beauty brands in the game - making us the only mobile game that offers such a vast multi-brand luxury experience.
What proved to be most challenging was bringing fashion and tech together - not just on the product side but also internally within the teams. We started DREST with a lot of fashion expertise but not enough gaming experience. We have now hired incredible professionals from the gaming industry, who work hand in hand with our fashion experts to deliver a game that is true to our vision.
The game’s growth was also fuelled by new features that we brought in. In 2020, we introduced our Supermodels - five real model avatars including Natalia Vodianova and Irina Shayk joined the game as avatars. In 2021 we introduced our Beauty Mode in partnership with Gucci Beauty and NARS, a hyper realistic close-up mode that gives our players the opportunity to showcase their make-up artistry and explore their creativity with cosmetics. Later in the same year, we brought into the game our very successful Jewelry Mode in partnership with French brand Cartier, a very detailed gameplay feature that allows players to style jewellery and watches.
As we progressed and developed the game further, the engagement we had from our players - 84% females between the ages of 18 and 65 with a strong interest in fashion and lifestyle - allowed us to gather fantastic insights to give to our brand partners, as in addition to featuring the world’s best luxury brands in the day-to-day game, we also run sponsored challenges and bespoke content campaigns to support new product launches or film releases for example. In the long term, this puts us in a very strong position to support brands with insights and data around yet to be released products and how they might be received in different parts of the world - tackling issues such as overproduction. We want our brand partners to see us as a global marketing channel they can collaborate with to better understand their audience.
Can you share details on what is currently being worked on for DREST and what is the team's outlook on maintaining an active player base?
We’re at a very important moment in our product evolution as we are getting ready to ship a new and highly improved version of DREST later this year. We are shipping our second massively improved product into open beta imminently! Built on Unity with a multitude of brand, narrative & emerging social features to boot. Our avatars are also getting some amazing treatment, so we look forward to showcasing this!
DREST currently sits in the top 200 role-playing titles on the App Store, what support has the platform offered for development?
We are very grateful for the support we have received from Apple and the teams there from our very early stages up until now.
Apple allows for games to develop by providing multiple ways to test different elements of the game via its Custom Product Pages, which our marketing team is looking to use extensively once we release the new game, alongside the Product Page Optimization tools.
We’ve worked with the Apple teams on multiple editorial opportunities since our 2019 launch and it’s fantastic to see our game recognised for its incredible visual execution and strong graphics but also for our stance on various topics such as diversity, equity and inclusion and sustainability.
Being featured directly on the App Store, with the opportunity to reach 650 million people weekly, has definitely given our app a boost in different international markets and we look forward to continuing to build on this relationship as we launch the new version of DREST.
We see fashion crossing over with the gaming industry more as concepts such as the metaverse emerge, what developments in this space interest you most?
It’s fascinating to see how quickly the fashion industry has embraced the metaverse as well as gaming more broadly. Fashion was a late adopter of web2 - and up until recently, some luxury brands didn't even have an e-commerce presence. That changed dramatically during the pandemic where we saw a quick shift towards digital - and throughout last year, so many brands have experimented with the metaverse, NFTs, blockchain and gaming, with various degrees of success.
What excites us the most here at DREST is the ability to bring together communities of like-minded people within the metaverse and develop their identities on DREST. Our players love fashion and style, they want to be part of this industry and they thrive on exploring creativity. Being able to bring them together within the game, or through a metaverse experience, opens up incredible opportunities not only for them but also for brands, who can access a highly engaged and interested audience; whether they are current consumers or future ones.
I’m also particularly interested in the idea of digital identities and how we present ourselves within the metaverse. There are multiple studies that show that users, especially Gen-Zers, seek beauty freedom in the metaverse, meaning that their digital identities can be somewhat different from their physical selves. This is where the conversation around diversity and inclusion comes into play - we have a fantastic opportunity to shape the metaverse as we want it to be.
There are still many unknowns when it comes to the future shape of the metaverse, and a lot of challenges that need to be overcome, especially around safety and security. What is certain though, is that the metaverse is here to stay.
Last year we saw DREST partner with supermodel Kate Moss, can you share any plans for 2023?
The new and improved version of DREST will include a new look and feel, animation, the ability to personalise avatars and a series of compelling new social features that will connect players with each other and with the brands they love. All these features will be gradually rolled out in 2023 and 2024. Our ambition is to continue to work with real luxury brands and real talent and people from within the fashion, beauty and lifestyle industries to create an inspiring, highly engaging and powerful global community of style lovers and creatives.