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How to dress in digital fashion

10.09.2022 09:00 AM
How to dress in digital fashion
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How to dress in digital fashion

The latest fashion is not made of threads and textiles, but of pixels and software.

Digital fashion makes everything traditional fashion does — shirts, dresses, pants, hats, shoes, and accessories — but none of it is tangible. Instead, customers "wear" digital clothing through augmented reality and digitally altered images.

Digital accessories are used by many in gaming - where gamers like Fortnite buy custom clothing or "skins" for their avatars - a multibillion-dollar industry. Then there's Facebook's recent announcement about its plans for metaverse. Although it sounds strange and futuristic, the merging of what is digital and physical is happening right now.

Now, designers are creating more digital fashion pieces for people to wear as ways to express themselves and push the boundaries of creativity. One might say that digital fashion is becoming more and more realistic.

Dhanush Shetty, 22, a product manager from San Francisco, notes that buying digital fashion was strange at first, but now it's easier, cheaper and more ethical than buying real new clothes.

Usually, when you buy new clothes, you have to think about fashion, size, shape, and sometimes, the impact on the environment. But in digital clothing "you don't have to worry about the clothing being 'big' or whether it was made in a way that exploits workers," Shetty tells VICE.

Shetty adds that he bought his first pieces of digital fashion DressX, a company that launched in August 2020 and now sells its own designs as well as collaborates with several digital designers.

DressX customers can experience digital clothing through augmented reality. If they decide to buy, they upload a photo of themselves to the website or app and then within 1-2 days, they receive the photo along with their digital fashion piece professionally designed to fit their bodies, ready to post on social media.

“Our goal is to give everyone their own digital locker,” says Natalia Modinova, co-founder of DressX. Modinova and co-founder Daria Shapovalova live in Los Angeles and previously worked in the fashion industry. Modinova and Shapovalova say that digital fashion allows people "to wear new and exciting clothes as often as they want, without having to actually produce the clothes."

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, 20 percent of global wastewater is produced by the fashion industry, which also emits 10 percent of global carbon emissions. The textile industry has been identified as a major contributor to plastic waste in the oceans, and fast fashion brands are notorious for their hazardous and exploitative working conditions.

Shapovalova predicts that in the future, everyone will have digital clothing "that you can wear on social media, on still photos, video calls, online conferences, and soon in games and other multiverses."

Another advantage of digital fashion, Shapovalova adds, is that it allows more designers to start their careers without the high costs of physical production - which is exactly what happened with 3D artist Stevie Fong.

Fong, who lives in London, has been tasked with creating 3D environments for a digital fashion campaign.

"At the time, I didn't know how to create digital fashion, but I was fascinated and excited to watch digital fashion designers create clothes from nothing. Only then did I realize that my 3D skills are complementary to digital fashion."

Today, Fong wears her own digital fashion designs. "I wear it because I want to show what's possible with digital fashion, and also because digital clothes make me look cooler compared to my clothes in real life."

The best part about digital fashion, she added, is that people can wear clothes with features that can't be found in the real world. "You can wear clothes that float and have no gravity. You can have clothes that glow in different colors. You can have costumes animated with different words or patterns - the possibilities are endless and fun."

Roy Derhy, founder of digital fashion house Placebo, whose designs have also been featured on DressX, believes that digital fashion transports people to different worlds.

"I think the best part about digital fashion is the escapism factor. Digital fashion is bigger than reality and makes people not just wear clothes, but their imaginations."

He believes that digital fashion is also a more sustainable way to create content for social media, which is what drives many fashion purchases today.

According to a study by UK-based online banking company Barclaycard, nearly one in 10 Britons revealed that they have bought clothes online to wear once, post a photo on social media, and then return the purchase.


“If clothing is only going to be used as part of your digital presence, why not use digital clothing?” asks the creator of augmented reality from Manchester, UK, by the name of Doddz.

Dodds, who discovered digital fashion while researching ways fashion brands could use augmented reality, believes it is only a matter of time before digital fashion is embraced by real-world fashionistas.

He noted how people are already wearing virtual sunglasses and hats through Instagram filters, and how brands like Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga have entered the gaming digital accessory industry.

“We all tend to work and live in metaverse or digital worlds, so the more people take an interest in their online presence, the more popular digital fashion will become,” Dodds adds.

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