The fashion industry is amid a profound digital transformation, marked by the emergence of virtual models redefining how brands and labels market themselves online. One noteworthy example is the global fashion giant Balmain, which drew significant attention when it launched a campaign featuring virtual models during the 2019 fall season. Additionally, luxury Italian brand Fendi has embraced this digital shift by operating a virtual reality showroom, enabling users to explore and purchase their products from the comfort of their own space, eliminating the need for physical store visits.
Beyond the advantages of rapid and intimate consumer engagement, this digital transformation offers designers a unique opportunity to showcase their creations to a global audience with unprecedented speed. The surge in e-commerce during the pandemic further underscored the importance of digitalization in the fashion industry, as consumers increasingly bought items without the need for physical try-on.
At the forefront of this digital fashion revolution is FNS Holdings, a pioneering startup headquartered in Pangyo. FNS Holdings has developed and operates the metaverse fashion platform mall, ‘Fassker.’ To gain insights into this transformative journey, we sat down with Choi Hyun-seok, CEO of FNS Holdings, who shared his perspectives on the evolving landscape of fashion and technology.
Q. Metaverse and VR technology are being used in various ways; how did you start a business in fashion tech?
Before starting the company, I was in charge of overseas business. During that time, I met many designers, and it was disheartening to see that Korean designers were skilled at design but needed to be more well-known in overseas markets. The reason is that Europe and the United States dominated the existing real fashion market, creating a biased ecosystem. To address this frustration, I became interested in the field of digital fashion and decided to pursue it.
Q. What sets you apart from existing e-commerce or online shopping malls?
There are two key distinctions. Firstly, traditional fashion, including online platforms, involves designing, manufacturing, and selling products. In contrast, Fassker sells designs. Customers are free from inventory burdens as production commences once they experience the design and make a purchase.
Secondly, customers can experience the product before it’s made. In the physical world, customers must expend effort to explore various designs, but in a virtual space, they can instantly experience a variety of designs. This offers designers and brands an opportunity to experiment with different styles.
Q. Fashion trends and styles change with the seasons. How do you address the time gap in implementing your designs into the metaverse?
Updating content each season can be challenging. To overcome this, we conducted research and development with CLO, which can be considered the AutoCAD of the fashion world in Korea. We developed a system that allows designers to provide designs directly through our service. Even if you’re not a designer or brand, we have a system in place where you can submit your designs, and we can transform them into 3D and provide them to you. In the future, we plan to introduce a service that enables easy uploads without our assistance.
Q. Comparing before and after the creation of the Fassker service, what changes have occurred in the fashion market?
Initially, the response was lukewarm, but as we collaborated with high-end brands and as metaverse technologies gained popularity, various players began to propose and explore digitalization.
Now, digital content is an asset, not a cost. With digital content, customers can experience and request product production and share it on social media, creating viral marketing effects.
Q. Does Fassker have plans to enter the global market?
We established a corporation in Japan in 2022 and intend to enter the Japanese market in earnest. Japan has a thriving content market, and we have high expectations due to the high spending power of the digital and virtual world.
Drawing on our experience in the Korean and Japanese markets, we plan to enhance our technological capabilities and competitiveness to expand into larger markets like the United States strategically. We’ve observed many cases of failed attempts to enter large markets, so our expansion will be methodical and built on a strong technological foundation.
Q. Fashion companies are concentrated in Cheongdam, Hongdae, and Dongdaemun in Seoul. Why did you choose to do business in Pangyo?
I chose this location because the company I worked for before starting my own business was in Pangyo. Pangyo is an excellent place with abundant support and policies for the IT industry, along with a substantial pool of developers, making recruitment straightforward.
Initially, we began in a startup space provided by Seongnam City and grew with the help of related infrastructure support projects. We’ve benefited from funding and business opportunities through support programs, which have been invaluable to our startup. Thanks to this support, our team size increased, and we naturally settled in Pangyo Techno Valley by expanding our office space.
Q. As a seasoned entrepreneur, what advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Startups offer numerous opportunities for taking on new challenges, but they also come with many obstacles. Thankfully, we’ve weathered crises, but it’s clear that experience and time are necessary to overcome them. You can gain valuable experience while working for a company, but when you launch your own business, consider the market as entirely new and approach it as a fresh challenge. This mindset can lead to significant achievements.
Q. What is FNS’s ultimate goal?
When it comes to global digital fashion, our aim is for Fassker to become the leading platform. Through Fassker, we aspire to provide numerous designers with opportunities to grow and succeed.
For inquiries and connections with Korean tech companies mentioned in this article,, contact us at [email protected]. We’re here to facilitate valuable partnerships.