Virtual Fashion: To wear, or not to wear

By Tanvi Vaidhyanathan

Technology- A branch of knowledge that is rapidly expanding. When I was a young girl, ideas like artificial intelligence and virtual reality were only a fantasy of mine. I never imagined this would become a reality. However, every day, the entire world is amazed by new technologies that never cease to blow our minds. Virtual Fashion is one such innovation that has recently piqued my interest. It is a fusion of classic fashion and cutting-edge technology. Clothes no longer exist physically in this fashion-meets-digital scenario, instead, they are chosen from a virtual depiction created using 3D software and AR-based (augmented reality) computer technology. It was developed with the assistance of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). 

The idea of virtual fashion did not exist until recently. The idea came to life when the Dutch start-up “The Fabricant”, joined hands with Dapper Labs and designer Johanna Jaskowska, to create Iridescence, an item of digital clothing. The concept of a digital garment, which lives only on the Blockchain, is based on 2D patterns of the person, who will wear it using images provided to the designers. The digital dress may be thought of as a customised fashion filter that only the owner can apply on Instagram and other social media platforms. While Iridescence does not exist in the real world, its worth and value come from its existence on the blockchain. When you consider that purchasing cryptocurrencies on the blockchain is an investment in an intangible item, it’s simple to see why someone may want to trade cryptocurrency for an article of digital clothing. It is expected that major fashion labels, such as Gucci, would provide both physical and digital copies of their creations in the coming months.

In a society recently ravaged by a pandemic, networking over the internet appears to be a routine chore. One may converse from the comfort of their own home using innovative programs such as the Metaverse. Digital clothing is something that enhances these encounters. Digital couture allows a person to acquire the virtual apparel that they believe matches their persona for photos without having to go to a store and test things on. It’s comparable to having a personalised profile picture that expresses your personality. You may even personalise your digital personalities in games like Fortnight. Purchasing clothes online may be a time-consuming process. Various constraints can impede our experience. One of the limitations is the inability to test the garments. As a result, questions remain. Like, will the dress look well on me? Does the colour suit me? Although they appear to be trivial in comparison to important issues, these concerns have an influence on customer behaviour, which has a significant impact on sales. Virtual fashion, on the other hand, was able to address these issues. Consumers are increasingly utilising augmented reality to visually test makeup or clothing, which is good news for brands. Furthermore, in a society where social distance is prevalent, this tool has been a boon.

In the past few years, fashion waste and its impact on global pollution have recently been at the forefront of several debates and conversations. Every year, we utilise 62 million tonnes of textile globally. This is predicted to increase to 102 million tonnes by 2030. People are wearing their clothes less because they are buying more new ones: the average article of apparel is worn 36% fewer times now than it was 15 years ago. This is particularly pronounced in Western countries such as the United States. Clothing consumption in China has dropped by 70% in the previous 15 years. According to the UN Environment Programme, the fashion sector is responsible for 20% of worldwide wastewater and 10% of global emissions. Another advantage of digital couture is that it prevents the depletion of natural resources utilised by the fashion industry. The rising trend among more ecologically concerned people has been to buy used or recycled clothing, but digital couture provides another option. With the absence of physical clothes in virtual fashion, one can expand their wardrobe endlessly without burdening the environment and their conscience.

Virtual fashion has gained popularity in a highly competitive and ever-changing industry. Artists are now attempting to carve out a niche for themselves by experimenting with this new medium and abandoning traditional methods. As innovation became a priority, dreams began turning into reality. Fabricant is without a doubt the pacesetter of the virtual garment industry. The firm has developed collaboration contracts with industry heavyweights like Tommy Hilfiger and Soorty to offer high-fashion virtual apparel that enable more individuals to experiment with the genre. Carlings, Tribute Brand, and Moschino are a few of the companies that have entered and flourished in this emerging business.

This innovative technology is still in its infancy. It still has a long way to go, but it has a lot of potential. Augmented fashion and virtual clothes are expected to have a significant influence on the future of fashion, promising to be the next big thing that everyone will be crazy about. Clothing will cease to be a defining feature of man or woman in a future where physical contact is a distant memory. It will begin to create their virtual avatars and digital personalities. The virtual fashion industry is here to stay.