Courtesy of Kat Taylor Cattytay, digital fashion appeared in 2017. However, we didn’t start talking about it out loud until 2020. It all started five years ago, when Kat first made an Instagram post with the caption ” Virtual Clothes!!!”
Then, there was a collaboration with Adidas, Off-White, Vetements and Balenciaga. These brands were interested in introducing the digitization of fashion even before it exploded in the media discourse. Keep in mind that the COVID-19 pandemic had not yet occurred and people were not stuck at home. Therefore, there was no need for digital clothing. However, it happened and the digitization of fashion predicted the future in the virtual world.
Of course, we have all tried virtual clothing in computer games long before Cattytay, but it was far from fashionable. Beggars cannot choose, as we say. These were jeans and shirts in Sims and various armor in Shooters. But no one could have imagined that in the near future we would try on branded sneakers in a specially created app or that we would do it even for money, as happened in March 2021 with the collaboration between Gucci and the Belarusian company Wanna. The first virtual sneakers could be purchased on the Gucci app for $12.99 and could be tried on at Wanna Kiks for $9 where, in addition to the sneakers, you could buy (well, take a picture of them, more like) and more. accessories.
And it reasonably raises some questions: Why would anyone want it? Who needs it? What would you do with him? Lovers of digital fashion claim that this saves the environment. As some say: There is no need to buy the real thing for a photo on Instagram. Ok, but what’s next? What is the percentage of people who will constantly buy digital things to post on social media? Was it just for fun? Will it be all the time?
There are several likely scenarios. The first, and the most realistic, is that of digital testers. To see how potential new clothes look on you, it would be nice to try them on without leaving home. It would be desirable to attract customers to these possible applications. Some stores are trying to implement this feature. However, at this stage, everything is pretty buggy. People are still entertained and this feature attracts customers. In general, this gives an idea of the attitude of real users towards digital fashion. Currently, it is like a game for them, while brands see it as a marketing opportunity.
Digital fashion and the gaming industry
The next area where we can use digital fashion is, of course, computer games. For example, with the iconic collaboration between Balenciaga and Fortnite, purchasing a Balenciaga-inspired skin in-game gives you the opportunity to purchase the piece in real life.
You have dressed yourself and then you dress your character – how awesome for the players. Overall, Fortnite makes a lot of money from in-app purchases, as users have spent over a billion dollars on in-game purchases for their characters.
However, there is an interoperability issue: Skin purchased for one game will not work in another. You dress your character but you will no longer have your photo for social networks. Thus, we have Moschino skins for The Sims and Gucci skins for Tennis Clash.
In 2021, Balenciaga presented a collection in a gaming format in which all the characters are dressed in the clothes of the last season. Thus, cybernetic aesthetics came into fashion in the real world: what was previously only within video games we are beginning to bring to the real world
Ever since Mark Zuckerberg announced the creation of a Metaverse, it seems that digitalized and virtualized reality is becoming more and more natural, or even the new normal. This simply means that we will all need to build houses and dress in virtual reality just like in the real world: whether to meet friends, to teach or to negotiate. During one of these negotiations, Demna Gvasalia, creative director of Balenciaga, already gave an interview in virtual reality.
Therefore, it is necessary to think not only about digital fashion, but also about digital design, so that the pictures in the form of NFT can be hung on the walls, regardless of practicality.
The digital fashion empire
In a short time, the digital fashion market became a huge empire, incomprehensible to most users. Entrepreneurs develop beautiful stories about sustainability, protecting the planet and unusual designs that will never be realized because they are simply not feasible for production.
Brands are happy to use digital fashion as one more coverage opportunity, but in reality, it is not applicable and it is not as beautiful in life as it may seem. For example, during the pandemic, the Russian brand Alexander Terekhov launched a promotion in which its couture dresses could be placed in a photo for $50. Based on the feedback from the participants, it turns out that there were a lot of difficulties and pitfalls: deadlines were delayed because the photos didn’t fit and the dresses didn’t look good on the client. However, the brand received the opportunity for desired coverage in the media.
Therefore, digital fashion is one more tool to promote the brand or a way to earn money for startups and digital designers. In a couple of months and for 700 dollars, all the secrets of the new market will be revealed and you will be able to take your brand to the world of meta fashion. However, the future is not clear. Will you design dresses for already famous brands or will you make your own? Will they actually wear the clothes you make in the Metaverse or will they use ready-made photos for $50?
Will the executives of the Metaverse promote fashion to the masses and how will the brands fare? Will there be metastores or will all clothes appear with one click? How will counterfeits be tackled and brands unite into something bigger?
So far, there are more questions than answers, but it is clear that we are on the verge of a new and very exciting industry that everyone is interested in.
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Inna Komvarova is the founder of the popular fashion Telegram channel Mamkina. In 2019, she left her job as head of the industrial sales department at a prominent HVAC company and started working full-time in fashion media.