Evelyn Mora founded Helsinki Fashion Week in 2018 with the goal of disrupting an industry that she deemed woefully out of touch and rather boring.
The 28-year-old Helsinki native initially focused the show on sustainability by showcasing brands that could prove their green bonafides and hosting events in venues build with recycled materials.
And then when Covid-19 hit, she didn’t just broadcast the show online like other industry events, but instead took it into 3D. Models had their bodies scanned by computers to create avatars, and then designers, including Patrick McDowell and Tess van Zalinge, created digital clothes for them to wear down a virtual catwalk. Attendees, also using 3D avatars, visited shows and interacted in a so-called Digital Village. Bloomberg recently spoke with Mora about fashion and what comes next.
What was the genesis of Helsinki Fashion Week?
I wanted to focus on building a test bed to test all the new innovations and try to implement them into the fashion industry powered by interdisciplinary professionals.
OK, but how did you get to turning it into a 3D event this year?
The process basically started for me with grocery shopping online, where I would just be in this 2D screen and just click on products. And I was just bored. I wanted to enter the cyber space. So I started communicating with different architects and tech professionals to figure out how to do that.
That’s a bold idea. How did you execute after that?
I started with the concept of a showroom. But I wanted to do an interactive 3D showroom instead of having hangers and racks around the room. Then the pandemic came. The most important part became creating partnerships between the 3D designers and the traditional designers to create one look. They had to actually really understand each other’s design processes and create one digital look.
Wondering how the designers actually converted their creations into 3D?
After they designed their new collections, they had to digitize, make paper patterns and then digitize those patterns. And once they digitized the patterns, they would start putting it on the avatar. We had a partnership with a modeling agency and instead of just saying: “Sorry, guys, we’re going digital, we’re going to make avatars,” we decided to 3D scan the same models that were supposed to walk in Helsinki.
What’s the bigger picture with digital tools, like 3D, and increasing access?
There’s a conflict in the fashion industry. We sort of have this exclusivity culture that if you’re not important enough, you don’t just get into the event. People are put into levels. The front row is for the most important people. The second row for the second-most important people. So it’s a bit of a hierarchical thing going on there.
But that can’t be the case anymore because everything has to be inclusive.
What’s the case for high fashion using digital tools like 3D post Covid?
You can really reach new groups of people with digital. You can find new dimensions to your brand and a business model that can literally make your business bloom without you having to do things in a traditional way.
Because we are spending so much of our time online, we have an opportunity to create cyberspace as an online environment that makes that shopping experience much more exciting.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed.