Where to get your virtual fashion fix

Digital fashion is coming our way – and fast. The fashion world is buzzing with new start-ups aiming to digitise our wardrobes, making digital fashion exciting, diverse and affordable.

The emergence of virtual fashion is driven by two megatrends. First, the drive to combat the planetary destruction caused by fast fashion and secondly, the expected fusion of our real and virtual lives, where going in and out of virtual, augmented or physical realities is going to be more seamless and thoughtless (see article on Gamification of Fashion). This is less futuristic than it sounds, because after all we are already living a good part of our day in some form of a virtual world. So, let’s get dressed for it.

A leading, new design house, nurturing virtual-only design talent, is the Amsterdam based startup, The Fabricant. The company designs outfits that can be used and traded in virtual realities with the primary aim of reducing fast fashion’s carbon footprint. One of the founders of The Fabricant says that, “the way we interact on social media is still one dimensional via text and video", but expects this to change – in the next few years – to us, “communicating as 3D versions of ourselves.”

Our 3D identity is expressed via our choice of digital clothing, much as it is in the real world. Given we may spend more and more time in virtual reality, it makes sense to source part of our wardrobe virtually too.

To broaden its virtual offering, The Fabricant recently ran a competition in collaboration with Adidas and Karlie Kloss for up and coming 3D fashion designers. The winning designs (you can see these on their website, see links at the end of this blog) showed in a virtual art-gallery on Decentraland, a marketplace to trade digital assets, where the designs were subsequently auctioned as NFTs with great success.

On a more basic and ‘today’ level, virtual fashion can be bought to upload onto an image of our real selves on social media. The LA based start-up Dress X was founded to do exactly that. The company realised how many fast fashion items are bought for the sole purpose of briefly featuring on our social media posts and are then returned; a phenomenon known in the fashion world as the Purchase-Instagram-Return trend of fashion. DressX capitalises on this trend by championing a new way to sample fast fashion virtually. It offers a hassle- and waste-free range of virtual accessories and clothing that are modelled and fitted onto an image we email them. That is really all there is to it.

Dress X, considered the virtual Net-a-Porter, is showcasing a long list of virtual designers, exciting pieces and collections. The designs are super easy to upload, are affordable, and can be bought with a credit card (no cryptos needed). DressX’s virtual clothes provide an entire, Instagram-ready, fully carbon neutral wardrobe.

Places like The Fabricant and DressX have the virtual world still largely to themselves, but it is only a matter of time until the ‘real world’ luxury brands will enter this space too. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Nike, amongst others, have already experimented with skins and trainers for avatars in videogames but are yet to provide collections for our 3D-selves.

The big ‘Maisons’ know however that they must follow their customers into their blended realities. A way they are rumoured to ‘enter’ the metaverse whilst maintaining brand integrity is via a process known as ‘twinning’. This means that we, upon the purchase of a luxury, physical, item, may equally acquire the digital version (NFT) of it, to use across various realities as we please.

Virtual fashion is diverse and today there is already plenty of choice to try different styles on images of ourselves. And soon we may be able to virtually wear many of our favourite brands too. Last, but certainly not least, our virtual clothes do come with many benefits; they are sustainable, fuss-free, maintenance free, and look pristine forever. No more waiting for deliveries, no more boring returns. Our virtual wardrobes can be enormous and allow us to go crazy with some new styles. A fashion fix that is fixing fashion. Seems like a total no-brainer.

Further links