Digital Fashion & NFTs: What is it all about?

Beginner May 24, 2021 · 4 min read

Digital fashion
Key Takeaways:
— Digital clothing is set to revolutionize the fashion industry, with tech standing in to allow people to be able to buy and ‘wear’ digital-only clothing.
— Virtual fashion allows designers to experiment with tech in clothing – tapping into hyper-real styles that wouldn’t be able to exist offline.
— Some digital fashion firms have started looking to blockchain to sell unique pieces as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
— Brands like Puma, Louis Vuitton and Gucci are exploring the scene, incorporating digital collections to their fashionable offerings.
— Digital fashion is exciting because it offers a sustainable approach to the fast-paced industry; combatting the dark side of fast fashion and eliminating waste and costly resources.

It’s time to demystify the link between digital fashion and NFTs

Digital-only clothing is making its mark in the fashion industry, and the tech-driven trend is set to completely overhaul the way we see style. With online identities playing such a vital role in how people interact online, it only makes sense that crafting and styling that identity is a natural step in the future.

Digital-only what now? 

Yeah, you read that right. Digital-only clothing. It’s fashion, but it exists only online. 

So it’s clothing, but you can’t wear it? 

We hear you, the idea of somehow donning pixels rather than fabric sounds outrageous and it’s hard to realise what the point might be. But if you think about it, curating one’s online presence has almost become a daily part of one’s life.

On social media, you naturally choose what image to broadcast. In gaming, part and parcel of the play is choosing the appearance of your avatar. The self-expression might be online, but it’s still self-expression. 

Digital fashion offers the same kind of expression. 

To look forward to the potential future of fashion, let’s take a step back and look at the young history of digital clothing.

A short history of digital clothing

Back in 2018 an innovative clothing company from Scandinavia, Carlings, released a digital-only clothing collection. Testing the waters, the retailer only launched 19 pieces in the collection and each item wore a proverbial price tag of between £9 and £15. Customers would send a photo to Carlings and their team of 3D designers would edit the purchased digital outfit onto the customer in the photograph.

The experiment was a great success, and it inspired Carlings to dive a little deeper into the digital fashion world. A year later, they created an augmented reality (AR) t-shirt, calling it “The Last Statement T-Shirt.” (Check it out in action here.) The team of clothing took AR technology and enhanced the clothing to change the shirt’s design with custom Instagram and Facebook filters between designs. The implication: Customers would buy one shirt, for one price, and experience numerous designs.

Nifty digital fashion – online clothing meets blockchain

Then, things took a step further into tech. In May of 2019, digital fashion leapt into the world of the blockchain making a $9,500 entrance with a one-of-kind statement piece. Digital fashion agency The Fabricant designed a unique couture dress and sold it on Ethereum’s blockchain as a non-fungible token (NFT).

The dress, Iridescence, was part of a collab between The Fabricant, influential digital creative artist Johanna Jaskowska and the team behind CryptoKitties, Dapper Labs. The piece was auctioned at the Ethereal Summit in New York – where it fetched that tidy sum of $9,500.

Iridescence. Source: The Fabricant

From here, digital fashion has only become more popular.

Companies are already testing the waters of digital fashion

Let’s take a quick gander at those who are investigating the space:

Puma partnered with the same company behind Iridescence to explore how technology can shift style towards sustainability. Through its reduced environmental impact collection ‘Day Zero’, the giant retailer designed a campaign eliminating the need for resources for sampling, logistics and travel.

Louis Vuitton teamed up with the multiplayer game League of Legends to release limited edition skins for players in-game. After the release, the high-end couture company started crafting real-life collections inspired by the skins.

Source: Dexerto

Another legacy brand boarded the train as Gucci partnered with tech and fashion company Wanna to create and sell digital sneakers with the high-end brand’s name and logo behind the virtual kicks with an affordable $12 price tag attached.

And with influencers like Johanna, giants like Puma, and high-end fashion firms like Gucci and Louis Vuitton experimenting in the space, we’re looking at a rapid acceleration towards digital fashion’s adoption.

Digital fashion has been in action for some time

For gamers, this self-expression purely online might not be foreign. Players often choose fashion for their in-game avatars. Let’s note, its sole purpose is purely aesthetic and has no bearing on the gaming ability – it’s all about virtual self-expression. 

Another example of virtual self-expression is on Zwift, the indoor cycling app. Cyclists across the globe can spend in-game currency to customise their digital cycling selves. Whether it’s brand loyalty, curiosity about how a new kit might look, or just enthusiastic cycling fashionistas, the customisable tool means athletes can dress in-app as they might do IRL.

The sustainable shift from fast fashion to relevant trends

Why this trend is such an exciting one, beyond the possibilities of what virtual fashion might offer (imagine dressing your digital self stylin’ in flames or clothed in a cloud), is that it boasts a much more sustainable approach to fashion.

Because, if you think about it, virtual clothing caters to people staying up to date with the very latest styles – like fast fashion – but without any of the waste involved. You see, with digital clothing, the tech covers the production costs that take their toll on the manufacturer, the customer (depending on where you shop) and the planet.

It’s a sustainable, innovative future we look forward to, and we can’t wait to see how it’s going to play out.

Knowledge is power.

Trust yourself and keep on learning! If you enjoy getting to grips with crypto and blockchain, check out our School of Block video all about the flourishing metaverse.

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