One day, advocates of digital fashion predict, people will be able to wander through huge virtual warehouses, pick out clothes in impossible colors or designs, instantly buy and dress them, throw them away, and start over. A dream for fans, but perhaps a nightmare for manufacturers.
Digital fashion is a ghost that haunts the catwalks of Parisian Fashion Week, a challenge evoked with great caution by Haute Couture houses, but that is boiling on social networks and among the youngest.
The Covid-19 pandemic led to the influx of broadcasts of collections without an audience, even virtual fashion, with clothes that moved in a vacuum, to replace the magic of the live catwalk.
The Paris Fashion Week, which is ending, confirmed that this hybrid trend is here to stay.
But the global confinement brought another phenomenon that threatens to completely disrupt the luxury sector: creations exclusively to be worn on the networks or in video games.
Futuristic clothing, commissioned from very young creators, from full-length photos. With prices ranging from a few tens of euros, dollars or bitcoins, up to thousands, if the client wants worldwide exclusivity, to save in a digital wallet, thanks to the NFTs, the “non-fungible tokens”.
And in the case of the most daring, clothes to wear the “skin” (skin) of your favorite avatar, without having to reveal their identity.
A world full of synthetic images, of people equipped with thick dark glasses, who move or gesticulate depending on what emerges in that parallel “metaverse”, as narrated by director Steven Spielberg in his film “Ready One Player” (2018 ).
A garment of light
“We absolutely believe in the absence of physicality. And fashion is above all an experience. We do not necessarily need to physically experience the emotion of wearing fabulous clothes,” Michaela Larosse, press officer of the firm, explained to AFP via Zoom Dutch digital The Fabricant.
With a score of graphic artists and designers, The Fabricant began creating digital clothing in 2018. But it was with the pandemic and confinement that its turnover “went through the roof,” says Larosse.
The Fabricant has relationships with well-known brands such as Puma or Tommy Hilfiger. They design their clothes in three dimensions, which helps reduce production costs.
But the proposal of this newly born firm goes much further, and goes through the “metaverse”, which is “a collection of virtual universes”, says Larosse.
Equipped with their virtual identity and their glasses, the client will be able to speak with dependents who will also be virtual. Buy or resell your clothing, your NFT, to another consumer, instantly.
All this without the need to use raw materials, or to manufacture anything, or to emit CO2, the great obsession for some young people, Larosse recalls.
“If you think of it as an expression of identity, we are all going to do it in some way. And if you choose to go naked, then there is no problem,” he explains with a smile.
“Or maybe you choose a light garment, or wear a smoke hat,” he adds.
That imperiously implies having a digital identity. “People under the age of 20 do not remember a non-digital world,” warns Larosse.
Silence from the big brands
But for the big luxury brands, which base their identity on craftsmanship, the extreme care of raw materials, this challenge implies a radical change.
Three big luxury brands that proudly returned to the Paris catwalks this week refused to explain their plans in the “metaverse” to questions from AFP.
However, these plans exist. Like Balenciaga, who made a foray into the popular video game Fortnite, proposing clothes and sneakers to more than 250 million players.
Frenchman Jean-Paul Gaultier, who broke the mold in fashion, acknowledged to AFP that he is no longer interested.
“I’m very happy with my adventure, I’m very tactile. Creating virtual clothes is another job, after all. It’s almost like making a movie. And I’m not interested in video games,” he explained.
What price is a customer willing to pay for digital clothing from a major brand? The market is too recent to have an answer, pioneers acknowledge.
DressX, founded just a year ago in San Francisco, chose to adopt the line of companies like Spotify or Netflix.
Through their app, for a price of less than ten dollars a month, they propose hundreds of dresses, digital jewelry, works of art, explained one of the two founders, Daria Shapovalova, to AFP in a videoconference.
There are problems to be solved, acknowledges his partner, Natalia Modenova.
“There are compatibility issues. When you’re in the real world you can go everywhere with your clothes, but not in the metaverse,” he explains.
But it is the future, they insist. “It’s like the beginning of the internet: some brands were reluctant to put their products up for sale online,” recalls Shapovalova. But “the sooner you position yourself, the better.”
Mariana Lunaz Lemmi
Googlearte Digital Marketing and Social Networks