Understanding what digital fashion is and why we should pay for something we’ll likely never touch is the next step. Digital fashion is clothing designed in 3D using state of the art software such as CLO3D and Browzwear. How we wear these computer files is still evolving. Currently, on some platforms, you can submit a photo of yourself so a digital media artist can superimpose an outfit of your choice, which you can then share on social media. It won’t be long until this process becomes automated and immersive, making it accessible to more people around the world using their smart devices.
For brands and retailers, digital fashion has many benefits. The biggest advantage is decreasing the amount of samples required during the early stages of design. Sharing a 3D version of styles with manufacturers means they’re getting a photorealistic version rather than flat sketches, resulting in a higher rate of accuracy in samples when they are produced.
Additionally, some independent designers who are passionate about sustainability and innovation are learning to use 3D design programs, bringing their radical ideas to digital reality and then selling outfits via online marketplaces. The same designers and entrepreneurs strongly believe we should be preparing for a lifestyle that is fully virtual.
There are already several marketplaces selling digital fashion to those in the know. These businesses are positioned for first mover advantage, aiming to be established by the time digital fashion becomes common knowledge. This new way of interacting with fashion is appealing to professional content creators, influencers and designers living on the edge of disruption.
A wardrobe of content
These new marketplaces are doing their best to reduce barriers for people interested in experimenting with digital fashion. For example, XR Couture and DressX have a large range of digital clothes to choose from, ranging in price, and the turnaround time to receive your digital outfit on a photograph is between one and five days.
Late last year, I purchased a top and pants via XR Couture. Everything was very easy. The artist and I exchanged a couple of emails about whether I wanted the top and pants together in the same photo or separately. Five days later, I received three image files and I shared them to my social media channels.
DressX is working to make it as simple as possible by launching an app. The DressX app uses Snapchat’s augmented reality technology where you can try and buy digital fashion. Similar to how a beauty filter works or when you place your smartphone above your wrist to see a virtual watch, DressX lets you try on blazers, dresses, tops and hats, save images and share online.
Essentially, digital fashion enables infinite styling content online, significantly reducing consumption of physical clothing, textile waste and the environmental impact.
Proof of purchase
The way we wear and interact with digital clothing is completely different to fashion as we know today. Typically, proof of purchase is as simple as buying an item, receiving a receipt and hanging it up in our wardrobes. However, digital fashion is complex and ownership is very different. One digital outfit could be shared an unlimited number of times, making it impossible to track and the designer missing out on being properly compensated.
A few fashion marketplaces such as The Dematerialised, Neuno and Digitalax are solving this by providing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) with each outfit sold. This brings transparency and traceability to the forefront. Digital fashion files are authenticated using blockchain technology. Every transaction is recorded and the original designer receives a percentage each time. This process is incredibly precise even as digital fashion outfits are traded or sold multiple times.
Currently, the NFT boom is inhibiting mass adoption as cryptocurrencies are unstable and expensive. This will soon balance out as more marketplaces and platforms offer simple ways to join and participate.
Wearing digital fashion in the future
If you’re wondering where this is heading and how it’s relevant now, well, there are a couple of factors at play here: the next evolution of the internet and overconsumption.
The internet is considered to still be in its infancy and in dire need of upgrades. Experts anticipate that Web 3.0 will likely become a more transparent and secure network where we can regain ownership of our personal data. Creating a level playing field, making it fairer for everyone when so much of our information is being used without our knowledge by technology behemoths.
Additionally, Web 3.0 technology will support deeper interoperability between systems and platforms, enabling seamless interactions online and more virtual places to wear our digital fashion purchases.
The global problem of overconsumption is getting worse. Fast fashion brands attempt to distract shoppers with greenwashing disguised as sustainability campaigns, yet they are still the main contributors to the second most polluting industry in the world. Digital fashion isn’t the solution, however it’s a viable alternative to reducing waste.
Digital fashion provides a new way to express ourselves virtually, encouraging people to consume in a sustainable way where we can still support the brands and designers we admire. We’ve had a glimpse of what this could be like, given how much time we’re active online due to the pandemic: we’re on Zoom calls, playing mobile games, interacting with augmented reality filters and keeping in touch with friends and family via social media.
We’re on the cusp of a new era in clothing. Digital fashion will truly enable us to explore identity and style in ways we’ve never been able to before. Let’s take small steps and give digital fashion a go, supporting new marketplaces. That’s how we will keep innovation moving and improving – by having everyone along for the ride.