We seem to have taken a step into the Black Mirror universe, ignoring the warnings from “Fifteen Million Merits”. If the sight of the characters dressing their digital doppelgangers in little hats was fascinating to you, we have brought you some bubbling news: now, you can do it too.
We are no strangers to choosing the outfits for our video game avatars in The Sims or playing barbie dress up games to decorate your virtual model. Virtual dresses have been present for quite some time now. In 2019, Moschino came up with The Sims inspired virtual collection for avatars within the game, same as Gucci’s player avatar clothes for Pokemon Go. That being said, virtual clothes have taken a few steps ahead of video games and avatars to humans. Or close to your digital version.
The days following The Met Gala saw the first ‘Meta Gala’ – a virtual event streamed on 17 September presented by the Crypto Fashion Week. The event consisted of eye-catching clothing items with holographic and neon-lit skin-tight bodysuits and gowns. Designer Ravi Guru Singh’s cross draped red and gold suit, with khussas as boots, was auctioned off for $3,600. In a feature with The Hindu, Singh gave an insert on this new dimension and talked about how the convergence of NFTs, AR/VR and social media have changed the fashion game.
The Empress of the Metaverse by The Fabricant
The latest trend to have taken the fashion industry on a ride includes digital NFTs. These non-fungible tokens are digital assets to represent digital garments that can be bought and sold like physical properties. Karl Lagerfeld launched their NFTs less than a month ago, and the two collections with items worth 77 euros and 177 euros each were sold out within five minutes. Luxury brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Rimowa have also dived right into this trend.
But, how do you wear them?
NFTs are nothing more than JPEG files or digital certificates of authenticity. These are secured via blockchain technology and are thus tamper-proof. They are essential in protecting brand value. Organisations like Arianee and Aura Blockchain Consortium have established NFT digital passports for luxury brands or fight fraud by recording products on a blockchain ledger with authenticity certificates.
This allows fashion brands, too, along with the real world, to sell their products in the virtual world via NFTs. This is especially prominent in the gaming world, where the personal avatars of players attend fashion shows, go shopping and meet each other. The same holds for people wanting to shop in the virtual world. For instance, the “Baby Birkin” NFT recently sold for $23,500. However, it wasn’t the usual handcrafted leather Hermes bag. Instead, a 2000 x 2000 pixel animated NFT was created by artists Mason Rothschild and Eric Ramirez, which doesn’t even seem to be by Hermes.
This month, Farfetch retailers tested digital sampling by digitally dressing influencers to promote brands like Balenciaga, Palm Angels, Khaite, Off-White, Oscar de la Renta, Dolce & Gabbana, Nanushka, Casablanca and Nicholas Kirkwood. In addition, the brand collaborated with the digital fashion platform DressX (to note that most of the products on DressX are not NFTs, but they are still in the initial stages of photoshopping).
The DUO created 3D versions of the outfits in a variety of ways. The digital clothing system worked by influencers providing the company with multiple images of them following the photography guidelines provided by the company. These guidelines include how to take the pictures, poses for digital dresses, the lighting and the fit of the clothes. The clothes were later digitally tailored on the pictures by the DressX team.
YouTuber and fashion influencer Safiya Nygaard tested out the trend by posting several pictures of her wearing digital clothes by DressX on her social media to gauge if her audience realised the difference. “So we posted this to Instagram, with kind of like a vague caption to see what people would think. And overall, I would say that people liked this photo. There were a couple of suspicious minds, and a couple of people who did think that the photo looked photoshopped weren’t exactly sure what was going on,” she discussed in her video.
The Need for Digital Clothes
“I believe that we are on our way to a fully virtual, augmented reality future,” Back in April, Sneaker designer Jeff Staple told Glossy that he believes we are on our way to fully virtual reality, in a world where we won’t need to own physical shoes. Instead, we can own their virtual versions and post them on social media.
Now, however, this is the elephant in the room. Digital clothing is only accessible for and on social media. But with fashion trends such as ‘fashion hauls’ or ‘weekly lookbooks’ on TikTok and Instagram that consist of influencers buying and wearing multiple clothes only for specific videos, digital clothing is surely the more eco-friendly and sustainable option.
Cameron-James Wilson, CEO of The Diigitals, discussed the need for digital clothing with BBC. While it may be a long shot to imagine yourself wearing digital clothes, it is a great technique for brand campaigns to allow for better visualisation and less wastage. It also allows brands to put collections up without wasting materials that are eventually returned or thrown away, given too much stock.
Digital fashion is still in its infancy, with a huge world for designers and brands to explore. It doesn’t seem like we will be the starring characters in a Fifteen Million Merits sequel, at least not yet.
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I am a Liberal Arts graduate who enjoys researching new topics and writing about them. An aspiring journalist, I love to read books, go on a drive on rainy days and listen to old Bollywood music.