Image courtesy: Moschino for The Sims
Shopping for clothes was everyone’s favorite until the pandemic arrived. With the hit of the pandemic, consumers stuck at home, had no reason to wear fashionable outfits. However, the high degree of creativity in the fashion industry for decades influenced by social, cultural, and economic phenomena knows how to evolve quickly.
We are witnessing an era of the digital revolution in Fashion and AR clothing. Though other industries adopted digitalization earlier, the fashion industry is finally ready to jump in. The brands recognize that Gen Z kicked in with a want of digital experience, has different needs to the previous generations. Gen-Z, today, holds a purchasing power of around $44 billion. This is the generation that grew up with a smartphone unlike any of their predecessors. The digital world is where they interact, shop and express.
One of the most relevant solutions offered by the brands is digital clothing as an immersive experience after digital shopping.
We will be covering the topic in great detail in our coming features. Let us look at what has been the recent adoption of digital advancements in fashion.
Virtual try-on is seen as a rising trend with retail outlets closed due to the pandemic. With the gift of e-commerce, selling online was possible but the customers expect a fast and free return. It was the time to put innovative minds altogether!
In 2020, Dior collaborated with Snapchat for an immersive augmented reality experience that is set to allow users and patrons of the brands to try on sneakers virtually before actually purchasing them. Snapchat also offers users to purchase the sneakers through Dior’s profile on Snapchat or the luxury label’s website. The social media platform has a large user base among Millennials and young shoppers.
Dior collaboration with Snapchat. Image courtesy: source
As more of our time is spent on social media, we tend to express ourselves in those platforms or other virtual spaces.
Ralph Lauren announced its first digital collection last year: one of its kind collection- a range of 12 items for Bitmoji, the personalized avatar/emoji system owned by Snapchat which are customizable with a new mix and match wardrobe. It’s a first for Ralph Lauren, but only the recent in many experiments with identity in the virtual spaces of games and social media by fashion and streetwear companies. Being playful, these experiments also have implications for the future of retail, and sustainability.
“As the world of digital avatars continues to accelerate, it’s interesting for us to test and learn how audiences respond to fashion in this space. Bitmoji is an important vehicle of self-expression in the digital and social space”, explains Alice Delahunt, Chief Digital Officer at Ralph Lauren about digital progress.
Image courtesy: Ralph Lauren avatars for Snapchat
The Commerce of Gaming
According to Newzoo's recent report, the global games market will generate revenues of $159.3 billion in 2020. Gaming is also predicted to surpass $200 billion by the end of 2023.
Gamers are turning to in-game merchandise in order to compete with others or differentiate themselves online giving a rise to the "Fashion Avatars". Luxury fashion players are seizing the opportunity to target consumers. From gaming-inspired fashion designs to brands creating their own games – and even a new category of virtual (and shoppable) styling games targeted at fashion consumers – there's been a lot of activity in this space of late.
Moreover, gaming is also becoming the new language of storytelling and a point of connection with the new generation. This is partly due to the emergence of a new generation of gamers who also happen to hold big spending power. According to Kantar research, almost 90% of Gen Z are gamers, compared to 59% of the total population.
Gaming influencers gaining popularity is another big reason why brands are keen to get
involved. Louis Vuitton also designed the trophy case for League of Legends’ 2019
Summoner’s Cup, which was eventually won by the Chinese team FunPlus Phoenix (FPX).
According to reports, the championship final drew in a massive 99.6 million unique
viewers, giving Louis Vuitton unprecedented reach.
NFTs in Fashion
Lack of exclusivity in the digital world is what makes Luxury Fashion hesitate from this media. Enter NFTs, the blockchain-backed technology that ensures uniqueness and value.
Multiple NFT backed fashion marketplaces are cropping up. Los Angeles-based DressX claims to be the first International digital fashion multi-brand retailer that carries digital fashion collections from the most well-known contemporary brands.
Image courtesy: DressX
We have discussed digital fashion as something to be linked purely to a digital world, and in particular to a game character or our digital avatar. A step ahead is wearing our “real” selves through digital garments.
This is the challenge launched by a purely digital fashion brand - IL3X, which has recently announced the platform ARdrobe.
Image source: IL3X
IL3X has made it possible for customers to buy digital clothes that can be worn by themselves on social media, just like an Instagram filter. This is achieved with the help of augmented reality technology.
The idea is to share our favorite outfits on our social channels by buying virtual garments. It’s a matter of fact that in some cases customers buy clothes to share their look in the virtual world. So, why not buy them virtually in the first place?
IL3X in collaboration with Missoni has introduced the virtual face masks on Instagram branded Missoni. In this case, the brand has reproduced virtually some products sold also as physical products. However, going forward ARdrobe has the intention to sell items not present in the physical world but just in the digital space.
Can digital fashion contribute to sustainability in fashion consumption?
The revolution of Fast fashion made a variety of clothing accessible to millions tapping into the need for instant gratification. This had its consequences. Today, a clothing item is worn merely 7 times on average.
Social media further added to the problem. DressX conducted research that highlighted that 9% of customers in developed countries only buy new clothes to add a picture for their social media and return after taking a photo. These unnecessary returns pose a big logistical challenge for retail. Essentially, these clothes don’t need to be produced - they can only exist in the digital space.
DressX aims to reduce returns and in turn contribute to sustainable initiatives in the fashion sector while creating a virtual fashion platform for personal expression and a new form of consumption. They have worked with traditional fashion creatives, launching designers. For example, LVMH-nominee designer Paskal, whose outfits, usually costing around $700-1100, were launched for less than $50 in the digital format. They have also collaborated with Buffalo London and The Fabricant, another virtual fashion player based out of Amsterdam.
The Fabricant states: “we waste nothing but data and exploit nothing but our imagination”. This implies going digital reduces wastage, travel, and fewer of the negative collateral effects of fast fashion; as digital fashion houses.
Possibly, creating a hybrid wardrobe with a mix of digital clothes and high-quality, long-lasting physical clothes could be a solution to the environmental challenges. Would you be up for it?
Shriya Madan, an ardent learner, a digital enthusiast, aspires to make an impact in the real world with the power of technology
Pranjali Apurva, driven by curiosity, converging design principles with digital transformation