Innovation Researcher Sophia Platts-Palmer met with Pietro Lo Casto, business director and partner at London-based digital creative agency DVTK to discuss the future of retail tech.
Founded by French nationals Kim Boutin and David Broner, DVTK defines itself as a creative digital agency that “helps brands crack the Internet boredom and delight people with surprising digital experiences”. In their own words, DVTK “embodies the will to awaken users with digital enjoyment by bringing a cool and fresh style to their screens.”
Established in 2015, DVTK has quickly amassed an international client base of leading luxury brands including Kenzo, Le Coq Sportiff and Fornasetti. Driven by the desire to “make the internet fun again” each DVTK brief is infused with their own unique brand of experimental, digital hyper-reality that appeals to what Lo Casto calls “the post-Tumblr generation” or generations Y and Z.
The DVTK aesthetic has its roots in Internet nostalgia. The visuals are reminiscent of 90’s graphic net-art, but while surprising and playful, their work retains a commercial objective.
What makes DVTK’s work so arresting is Kim and David’s willingness to experiment, and to challenge perceptions of virtual engagement by employing bold visuals and cutting edge technology to create immersive digital experiences.
Kim has been passionate about the internet since she was a teenager and following a degree in design, she pursued a career in interactive and digital design, leading her to work with luxury and fashion brands- including taking the lead on a number of digital projects for Kenzo. Prior to DVTK, David worked as a 3D designer and animator for a number of French post-production studios.
David and Kim realised that they had been unofficially collaborating on creative projects for almost ten years and left their day jobs to formally create DVTK. Lo Casto then joined the team; a former account manager at Apple, he brought with him his eye for disruptive technology, strategic communications and business acumen. Since then, the small team have produced a number of digital campaigns, provided digital press releases for leading brands and of course collaborated with WAH Nails to bring the ‘salon of the future’ to London.
Since 2016 DVTK have been collaborating with fashion stylist Louby McLoughlin (formerly of Kenzo and POP magazine) to build OKGrl; a digital magazine-cum-virtual world targeting culturally engaged Gen Z girls. OKGrl is an interactive online fashion platform designed to entertain and inspire the younger generation by providing them with a digital world of editorial, audio visual, and interactive content that speaks a language its intended audience can understand and can seamlessly integrating into their lives.
GDR was given the opportunity to enter the OKGrl universe. Opening the app, my iPhone screen, my phone became a portal into a 360 virtual store I could walk around and browse at leisure. By moving around the physical space, I navigate the OKGrl world – as if the virtual landscape has overlapped with the physical. Eventually shopping will take place here, when products by brands featured in OKGrl will be available to browse and buy through the platform.
When asked what brands he thinks are leading the retail-tech race, Lo Casto champions sportswear as a sector that is nailing the customisation game. He also admires Audi, who have given VR a legitimate space in which to comfortably reside and tips e-commerce giants like Farfetch and Mr Porter as ones to watch.
Looking forward, DVTK are currently working on a digital project with a leading e-commerce brand and hope to leverage more emerging technologies including AR and Google Daydream to generate innovative retail experiences. Lo Casto expressed a keen interest in collaborating with Southeast Asian brands, his eye on Japan and South Korea where the ‘kawaii’ (“cute”, “adorable”, “loveable”) aesthetic that DVTK projects is a popular cultural phenomenon.
DVTK truly understand the Internet and for Kim “the internet is the only place I could put everything in a new shape”. DVTK recognise the importance of a strong omni-channel presence and aim to unite the physical and digital divide in the work and worlds that they create. “Buying online is not enough anymore,” Lo Casto tells GDR. “People want to discover more and more.” DVTK are committed to enabling brands and consumers to experience a deeper virtual engagement as the boundaries between online and offline continue to blur.
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