Digital Fashion – What is it, and is it worth the hype?

What is Virtual Fashion?

We have all heard of artificial intelligence, but how does it relate to the world of fashion? Companies like Specsavers have used virtual fashion to help customers in the real world, by collaborating with a company called Luna. Their site uses a virtual try on service (a combination of AI and digital measurements) to help customers find the right shape and style of glasses without having to go into the store.

However, the virtual fashion movement has taken it one step further, where customers are now buying an outfit to then be attached to a specific photo or video, never to be worn in the real world.

Photo by replicant.fashion

How does it work?

Fashion designers submit their outfit to the store, where the garment is then created via programmes such as CLO 3D, Tuka 3D and Marvelous Designer. The buyer then selects their chosen item, and supplies the photo they want to be wearing the garment in. They then receive the finished product – the same photo, however this time they are dressed in the cutting-edge garment of their choice.

There is a crossover into reality, however, as the garments are constructed using real templates, which doesn’t restrict the clothing to only exist in a virtual world.

Examples in popular culture

Last year’s Australian Fashion Week saw digital fashion house The Fabricant collaborate with designer Toni Maticevski, where the visitors were permitted to wear the “Animator Overcoat”, where they were photographed and then digitally dressed by the digital fashion retailer DressX. A few months later, fashion giants Nike bought digital shoe creators RTFKT, exclusively selling virtual sneakers.

Examples in education

UK universities such as Ravensbourne and University of the Creative Arts (UCA) are offering digital fashion courses to students, from specific Digital Technology for Fashion Pathway modules for BA(hons) Ravensbourne students, to a masters in Digital Fashion at UCA. This is a great example of virtual fashion opening up another field of expertise for technology students, allowing a crossover of technology into the fashion world.

Pros                          

–          It’s a strong alternative to fast fashion, and stops the toxic cycle of buying an item of clothing to be worn once, then thrown to the back of your wardrobe. In turn, this is a more sustainable option, as not a single garment is created. For example, the production of a single pair of jeans uses 2,630 litres of water and approximately 1.4million tonnes of raw cotton. Digital fashion outlet Replicant adds that it “gives an opportunity to express yourself with no harm to our planet” (2021).

–          It keeps fashion accessible to all. You don’t have to be a certain shape or height to take part in this trend, and it is automatically tailored to your measurements.

Cons

–          Admittedly, the pros outweigh the cons, however it comes down to whether you can get past the futuristic element of paying for something that isn’t real.

Virtual fashion isn’t another Black Mirror episode, or robots taking over the fashion industry, it’s rather opening another door to how we shop and wear items of clothing. If it is a gateway to a new genre of technology, can we really argue it’s a bad thing?  

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