WORDS BY LILIAN WEIERMANN
The future is now! Cher’s digital closet in 'Clueless' is here and about to shake up the fashion industry. Whether you are a well-informed fashion enthusiast or hear the term 'digital fashion' for the first time, it is more than likely that this will be a present factor in the industry and conversations of the future. But what is digital fashion? And is it sustainable or just another fashion industry gadget?
“Fashion is about expressing identities, but you have physical limitations when you are producing. Digital fashion is basically removing this part and enhancing what self-expression is. No physical limitations at all. You can dress as whoever you feel like you are.”
– Daniele Scarante, The Fabricant
Okay, but what is digital fashion?
Simply put, digital fashion is created with 3D software and presented and used in a digital space. What might seem futuristic to some is taking place in reality for a majority of people already. According to Obsess, more than sixty per cent of US consumers have invested in digital goods such as accessories or clothes. Earlier this year, the first-ever Metaverse Fashion Week took place in Decentraland. At the same time, Balenciaga and Gucci both test the waters of in-game experiences, connecting games and fashion. Needless to say that the fashion industry is pulsating and keen to uncover this new territory.
Cool, but does digital fashion affect me?
The possibilities are endless. Creating a digital identity on Instagram and co. is part of our everyday life already, and we bet you’ve spent an afternoon creating an avatar on The Sims or Nintendo Wii. Digital identities are here already, and as they are becoming increasingly prominent, dressing and individualising them is kind of the logical next step, don’t you think? Let’s zoom into the future; how cool would it be if you could wear a digital blazer for that one online meeting while secretly being in your home office pyjama attire? Or if you could express yourself creatively on your Instagram by showcasing an outfit unbound from gravity or physical limitations? The best part is, that you wouldn’t even have to learn sewing, and your creation is not being landfilled.
What about the environmental cost of digital fashion?
While digital fashion sometimes still has a 'gadgety' and playful feel to it, its future predictions are promising. From fighting overconsumption and minimising fashion waste to democratising fashion through unbound inclusivity. Clearly, digital fashion is the topic of the moment. And to be fair, can you think of another innovation in the fashion industry on this scale? An entirely new way to experience and consume fashion is of extraordinary novelty.
While this seems promising, we cannot help but think of the emissions that Web3, NFT mining and other activities in the digital world are accused of. To be honest, it is difficult to understand the complexity of emissions around fashion – let alone those of digital fashion. There are numerous facts around, one contradicting the other. Business of Fashion addressed this lack of data in their latest Sustainability Index. According to their findings, the industry’s focus is put on time efficiency rather than scaling innovation and minimising environmental impact. At this point, there is simply not enough data to make a definite statement on the sustainability of digital fashion. As frustrating as this might be, it also encourages us to keep asking for transparency and traceability in the fashion industry.
Whenever economic innovations occur, pioneering stakeholders are in crucial positions to set the tone and build the fundaments of future activities. This is no different to the contemporary developments as digital fashion has the potential to counter and minimise a physical garment’s ecological footprint. We are building a new digital economy, and the ponds have not yet been set. Let’s set them consciously to make digital fashion a true alternative to polluting physical garments.
Democratising digital fashion. A conversation with The Fabricant.
We were curious to understand how to pioneer in a not yet widely explored field while keeping social and environmental responsibility in mind. A company that is radically disrupting this discourse is The Fabricant. The decentralised digital fashion house is at the forefront of transcending the physical body and our digital identities with a new design studio and marketplace. We talked to The Fabricant’s 3D Fashion Lead, Daniele Scarante, to unravel these concerns and learn about his digital future vision. Stay tuned for the next post.