Want to try on a lilac costume with wings or an anti-gravity dress? Metaverse’s potential is essentially limitless. Digital fashion benefits from this, which is no longer just part of the gaming industry, but a billion-dollar business. Global fashion brands are also starting to understand its growing position on the market.
Do you know how much material clothing companies use each year to develop digital fashion collections? None. All pieces are created exclusively and only with the use of data. Digital fashion uses avatars to sell virtual clothing and accessories. Purchased models, i.e. augmented reality filters, are then inserted by customers into their photos and videos, thereby creating their own unique digital image.
The biggest advantage of digital fashion is that designers don’t have to think about the availability of materials or the physical limitations of the real world when working in Metaverse, and can come up with completely unique designs. The industry also offers its users a lot of space for self-expression, through an abundance of combinations of cuts, materials and colors. And that too in an environmentally friendly form. “After spending fifteen years in the field of conventional fashion, we felt an urgent need to steer the industry in a new, greener and more efficient direction,” she described her motivation for creating DRESSX co-founder Daria Shapolova. This very platform, which she founded together with Natalia Modenova, is today the largest seller of digital fashion.
Today, the digital fashion industry is no longer just a niche hobbyist business, but a rapidly expanding market that is expected to be worth more than $65 million by 2027. And that’s already worth paying attention to. Since 2018, a number of purely virtual fashion brands have been created, some of which seek to collaborate with traditional ones. “DRESSX has already established partnerships with several important technology, fashion and lifestyle companies such as Meta, Roblox, Snapchat, Coca-Cola, FARFETCH, Adidas, BOSS or Bershka. We offer traditional fashion brands complete support when entering the digital world, from the design and production of 3D collections to their distribution and marketing,” says Natalia Modenova, the second of the co-founders of the world’s largest digital fashion retailer.
Photo: photo SYNCHRODOGS & ALEX BLACK for Vogue CS
A new form of influencer marketing
There is also an offshoot of digital fashion that combines the Metaverse with the physical world. This concept allows you to try on real clothes and accessories through virtual reality. For brands, this is a great way to draw attention to their products and reduce returns.
A new form of collaboration between influencers and brands, so-called VR (virtual reality) influencer marketing, also comes into play. It differs from the classic one in that influencers are not given real products to promote, but only their virtual versions. They can thus come up with more money saved for production and import. Last year, for example, two Korean influencers promoted digital versions of products from Farfetch on their Instagram account @q2han.
The growing popularity of the innovative clothing industry is also being noted by celebrities who, like influencers, are gradually entering into collaborations with digital fashion brands. DRESSX has already collaborated with names such as Maya Musk, Helena Christensen, Sofi Tukker, Bloom Twins or Megan Kaspar. She also presented the model from the Support Ukraine collection on her Instagram Madonna.
The brilliance and misery of the Metaverse
Some of the benefits of digital fashion are inherently obvious. In addition to the new avenues of creativity it opens up, it is also sustainable and essentially cost-effective for brands. “By replacing just 1% of physical clothing with digital garments, we could save 5 trillion liters of water and eliminate the annual carbon footprint of the fashion industry by 35 million tons, equivalent to Denmark’s total carbon emissions in 2017,” explains DRESSX Production Manager Julie Krasnienko.
Virtual fashion also has the potential to fulfill what not only Generation Z wants from the fashion industry: to be more inclusive. Offer enough options for all races, ages, weight groups and gender identities. Thanks to Metaverse, the fashion industry is also opening up to new faces. Because it doesn’t matter where you come from or what social class you are. If you have access to technology and are imaginative, you can easily highlight your skills. “Our dream is to provide an endless digital wardrobe for every person in the world to express themselves freely and creatively. We want to offer fashion designers a safe place where they can create and grow professionally,” adds Modenova.
However, the question of sustainability in relation to digital fashion is not entirely without problems. Creating 3D models also requires electrical energy and resources. The rapid pace of digital fashion updates can also contribute to a mentality of constant consumption, similar to fast fashion.
The aforementioned inclusivity of the environment is also debatable. Access to it is not limited by nationality or gender, but at least by the availability of an Internet connection. Since this is a business, money also plays a role. Last but not least, the emerging industry must deal with the challenges that virtual environments bring, such as data protection and privacy.
Society also puts the weight of these considerations on its shoulders DRESSX: “As pioneers in this field, we face the responsibility of setting standards and shaping the industry. Our mission is to inspire creativity, promote sustainability and create a seamless convergence of the physical and virtual worlds of fashion,” says Krasnienko.
The future of digital fashion
Like any fast-moving innovation, the intersection of fashion and technology raises a number of concerns. But in our opinion, they are out of place. Digital fashion can never replace physical fashion, because the functionality of clothing and creating your own identity in real life is far more important than our digital footprint. But the new industry undoubtedly has the potential to inspire positive change in the entire fashion industry and pave the way for a more vibrant, accessible and responsible fashion future. As already mentioned, even if only one percent of the world’s fashion production moves to the digital world, it will have a substantial positive impact on the environment.