Image: stock.adobe/ ronstik
Why buy clothes at the fashion store next door when we mostly communicate through digital media, especially in the current times of the pandemic? Fashion made of codes and pixels – that would be a possible alternative! In fact: fabrics and digital designs will fundamentally change the fashion industry in the future and it has already started. It’s practically tailored and money flows for fashion that doesn’t actually exist but can only be found in the digital world. What may at first sound like a slippage is actually a boundary zone that we have longed for or already know in many areas.
Buy clothes without fabric?
For many of us, the digital world is as important as real life itself – in both cases it’s about discovering and staging yourself. However, digital fashion has one very big advantage: it hardly leaves an ecological footprint. Upcycling and sustainable consumption in the form of secondhand has ceased long enough to protect the environment – rather, the production of unnecessary clothing must be stopped. The dark side of the fashion industry is great, sooner or later our fashion madness will destroy our world. Many young people care about our planet and this generation is also trying to implement the idea of sustainability. Digital fashion stands for inspiration on social media and in an eco-friendly way. When it comes to design, creativity is not limited by the laws of physics. Clothes that don’t need to be fitted, dyed and shipped are environmentally friendly. Although virtual mode requires a large amount of electricity in terms of data storage and transmission speeds in the form of bits and bytes, these end up in the digital waste paper basket without waste. Fast fashion, on the other hand, is, so to speak, a trend today and trash tomorrow. Therefore, in the case of fast fashion, it is not at all possible to talk about guilt-free consumption. However, digital fashion would end clothing’s reputation as “disposable” and completely redefine fashion. With a virtual wardrobe we can follow any trend, no matter how small, without polluting the environment. If fashion was purely digital, then there would be no unsafe working conditions in developing countries, no mountains of clothing that would, at worst, end up in bins or even have to be burned.
What can digital fashion really do?
Most of us have known digital fashion figuratively for a relatively long time: Who doesn’t use multiple filters on the instant messaging service Snapchat and pose with all kinds of virtual accessories like sunglasses or hats? It’s about fun, entertainment, and above all, self-fulfillment. But digital mods can do much more and look much more realistic. Each type of textile has its own special characteristics – silk, for example, behaves completely differently in movement than leather, cotton, linen or velvet, but this is no obstacle to the virtual world. With digital fashion, the movement of any fabric can be precisely calculated thanks to high-class software and finally simulated in a realistic way. This also creates a sustainable alternative to the classic fashion show: no models needing to be flown to fashion shows, no fabric ending up in bins after the show – everything is digital but still deceptively real.
How digital are we already in online retail?
Selected eyeglass manufacturers who offer their goods online have already dared to take the first step: the virtual fitting serves to allow buyers to find the right eyeglass frame in advance, making it easier to make the right decision. Here you can quickly and easily experiment with a large number of eyeglass frames – all uncomplicated and with a click of the mouse. Thus, returns are reduced to a minimum and there are hardly any logistical challenges for retailers. What certainly shouldn’t go unmentioned here: Returns are known to be anything but environmentally friendly, and we in Germany are among the leaders when it comes to returns. Especially in the course of the pandemic, but in some cases even before it happened, fashion brands also rely on the latest technologies with the aim of improving our shopping experience. Digital equipment in a so-called “virtual dressing room” was already in a testing phase.
Image montage for a single post on social media channels
You can hardly say that this is not tangible fashion: many influencers are already aware of the advantages of digital fashion and present their followers with clothes that could not be more unusual. But where can you buy these parts? We will not find what we are looking for in the nearby clothing store, but in the digital fashion world. Even in the relatively low price segment, you can buy practically sewn clothes, which are placed exactly in any photo. It’s actually quite simple: All you have to do is send a photo in which you are not scantily clad, photographed or can be seen in skin-tight clothing. With one click you get the right to a limited wardrobe. Like a photo montage, you get the final finished result with realistic digital trick fashion after a few days. When you look at the range, it quickly becomes clear that this is high fashion. Digital fashion does not correspond to the items of clothing that you usually wear, but stands for those pieces that are extravagant and unique. You won’t find digital fashion in any wardrobe in the world or in any store – that’s what makes the future-oriented trend so special.
Successful business model in the gaming sector
Digital fashion is also firmly anchored in the gaming world. Here, for example, fans of the video games “League of Legends” or “Fortnite” dig deep into their pockets for the clothes and costumes of the characters and spend a lot of money on the so-called “skins”. Especially during the lockdown, the gaming sector has benefited and has also become more and more popular, so here you can talk about huge sums – for individual games there is even talk of sales in the double-digit range of millions. Reason enough for many big fashion brands to market their new collections this way. Italian luxury label Gucci uses “The Sims” as a platform and presents fashion there with a gaming look. But the winter collection of a well-known brand has also appeared in “Animal Crossing”. Last, but not least, the labels Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Balenciaga should be mentioned, all of which convince with special “skins” in the gaming area.
Today I wear codes and pixels
Tangible fashion has a very important advantage: it protects the human body from cold, rain and many other environmental influences. But our wardrobe also has a completely different purpose – it reflects our identity and helps the wearer achieve the desired image. Clothing for everyday use was already being mass-produced. It would be environmentally friendly to simply use textiles that have already been produced, because the function of self-portraiture is also fulfilled by digital fashion. The new aesthetic of the virtual wardrobe is fascinating: digital fashion is more in demand than we can currently imagine and is considered a huge growth market with inexhaustible potential. People are investing in virtual fashion, there is also speculation – similar to the stock market. Many want to buy limited pieces, whether it’s a pair of sneakers, a coat or other pieces. But these collections are sold out after a very short time, even though you only get rights to one file. Digital fashion has already sold at record prices. Prime example: Fabricant’s Iridescence virtual dress fetched $9,500 in 2019. The transparent, reflective, and above all extravagant dress was gifted by the buyer to his wife, who has since only had one photo of the exclusive dress.
Fashion also works virtually
During lockdown we certainly spent most of our time in pajamas or jogging suits. Especially during the pandemic, we should have realized that we own more clothes than we actually need. Countless chic evening dresses or elegant tuxedos have been in our wardrobes for a long time. For a Zoom meeting, no one probably shopped for new looks online, but we did use clothes we already own. Our attitude must continue in this direction in the future as well.
Because do we really want to be responsible for the fact that other people are bad because of our consumerism and that all nature is affected? With digital fashion we can reduce real production to a minimum and revolutionize the fashion industry towards a sustainable economy.
Fashion created online by artificial intelligence
Programming instead of tailoring – this will be our wardrobe of the future. Virtual clothing is one of the biggest trends in the digital world. Software developers all over the world work in extravagant designs and styles. Target group: A generation that is on the move every day on digital channels and wants to be introduced there. Almost anything is possible these days and we are likely to break countless boundaries in many other areas. Artificial intelligence is on everyone’s lips and is becoming more and more a part of our daily lives. This technology has many strengths – this is also shown in digital fashion.
Digital fashion has already become an integral part of our lives in many areas and will continue to gain importance and popularity in the future. The virtual wardrobe has no limits, the possibilities are endless. Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, not only will we be able to adjust the background of video conferencing, but we’ll also be able to attend a meeting or training course dressed in digital fashion that looks deceptively really. This upcoming trend will no longer be anything unusual either on Instagram or on other social networks. But one question is always present, even with digital fashion: What will I wear today?
| Text: Jana Dahnke