While the runway show experience seemed like other high-end fashion shows, there is more to the brand and collection than meets the eye. The design process leading up to the 2023 Resort range and post-runway show engagement was vastly different, proving Daniel Avakian is steadfastly changing the system.
“To digitally transform one of oldest industries in the world and lay the foundation and form a symbiosis between human and digital to create a sustainable future for fashion…from within the fashion industry, was my vision,” said Daniel Avakian, founder and chief creative officer of his namesake label.
As the runway show began, the LED screen transitioned from the designer’s name to a city fly-through video. The audience was suddenly taken on a journey as the camera moved swiftly through a 3D version of New York City, then slowed down to explore a virtual DA retail store. Many garments from the collection featured as digital fashion in the store. With the fly-through video fading in the background, the graphics switched to a moody animated pattern and the runway show began.
In addition to the physical range, Daniel Avakian converted eight designs from the collection into high-quality digital fashion garments worn by avatars. At the end of the event, the digital fashion files were minted as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on Opensea, one of the largest NFT marketplaces. This process was in collaboration with BTC Markets, a cryptocurrency trading platform.
Avakian said: “The DA vision was to usher in a new way to project brand image and represent pieces so as to capture real-time trends, and make available these pieces alongside the real-life ones to symbolically showcase a new sustainable fashion cycle.”
The final look to grace the DA runway was the Tears in the Rain gown, paired with the background screen, which changed to a digital version of the same dress walking a virtual runway. It was a subtle moment where the physical and digital experience came together.
Be the change
Avakian’s 2023 Resort collection with digital avatars and NFTs was not his first foray into producing an innovative runway event. During Afterpay Australian Fashion Week last year, the DA audience was captivated by a large LED screen displaying a 3D room where a digital avatar walked toward the audience showcasing a look from the collection.
But Avakian is not only reinventing the fashion show format, but also connecting it to his entire fashion design process. He’s moving from a standalone spectacle to a connected branded experience with utility and sustainability.
The DA Real Time Fashion platform, launching later in 2022, will incorporate a scalable supply chain, fast-to-market apparel production, remote customer 3D body-scanning, photorealistic avatars, virtual retail, and fashion NFT’s. The solution aims to provide a unique customer experience, integrate real-time trends, and reduce the brand’s carbon footprint.
“The design workflow we believe we have now proved after four years of research and development: from design inspiration, to 3D pattern making, and onto 3D rendering and ready for e-commerce within weeks,” he said.
Fashion weeks’ future
Traditional fashion weeks are evolving. For the past two years, luxury brands around the world have experimented with digital runway shows, livestreamed events and immersive experiences. As we emerge with confidence from pandemic lockdowns, customers are eager for a blended experience.
London Fashion Week was one of the first major programs to adopt digital-first initiatives by incorporating Instagram Live events, webinars, virtual showrooms, shop-the-runway functionality, and direct-to-consumer e-commerce. This has become a highly valuable strategy for London Fashion Week, as it offers more relevant channels for engagement and increased connection beyond runway shows.
There are many benefits to adding digital touchpoints to runway shows. Unique elements become part of the brand’s digital strategy and customer experience. It’s everything from implementing 3D design practices, artificial intelligence and remote body scanning, to supply-chain traceability, NFTs, and immersive experiences that seamlessly merge physical and digital.
While there may be wider resistance to integrating technology into fashion, there’s no denying that when a tech-based strategy and implementation plan are put into place with the customer experience in mind, the results can be unparalleled. It can prove to customers that the fashion brand they love is just as skilled in terms of communication, engagement, and the purchase journey.