How much would you spend for a dress that is not.
Yes, you read that correctly, and that sentence has no grammatical error.
So how much would you spend for a dress that doesn't exist; except in the virtual space.
A dress that you cannot wear, but that you can flaunt - Online, on your Instagram, your Facebook page, your profile pic, on Snapchat, Tik-Tok or a similar digital-only platform ?
Yes, this is Digital Couture like never before. A virtual dress, available for download at a premium price and to be used only on your images or your virtual avatars.
Iridescence - a dress made of Data.
It may sound like a detail from a futuristic Sci -fi flick but ladies, hold your breath. A Dutch fashion start-up going by the name The Fabricant, has sold its first digital dress called "Iridescence" - made of Data (mind you,) at the whopping price of $9,500.
Before and after adding the digital dress.
It really is nothing more than an Instagram filter. In fact according to HYPEBAE it is even inspired by an Instagram filter - the glossy pixelated filter. The dress was created in collaboration with Dapper Labs and artist Johanna Jaskowska.
Welcome to Digital couture - the latest in global fashion with digital-only clothing; a new and developing consumer sector where clothes are created using three-dimensional fashion design and film animation.
According to Forbes, The Fabricant made the digital dress using “2D garment pattern-cutting software and 3D design software.” Finally, film rendering tools created the “hyper-real clothing.”
Another virtual ensemble by The Fabricant
So what you get is a dress that exists only online, and once you buy it you have 28 days to send the couturiers a photo of the intended wearer for customization.
With the global Fashion industry constantly innovating and experimenting this "digital only' dress comes at a time when digital consumables such as crypto-collectibles - non tangible objects that exist only in the virtual space - have reached a $200 billion USD market in 2019.
Shudu - World's first Digital Supermodel
That a digital only fashion space had arrived was clear with the Instagram debut of Shudu - " World's First Digital Supermodel" in April 2017. And Shudu has already been a Vogue cover girl. She is a creation of 28-year-old British fashion photographer Cameron James-Wilson, who creates each image of Shudu from his computer in about 3 days.
Lil Miquela, a virtual digital Instagram influencer
Even before this the advent of digital characters like Lil Miquela, a digital Instagram influencer, in 2016, in the fashion industry and the block-chain community, had strengthened the preparedness of the millennial "Gen Z" consumer for a digital consumption ecosystem.
The idea is steadily gaining ground. And with the supposed philosophy behind it, it is only likely to gain further traction in the consumer space. Take in this -
"... Should value still be determined by an object’s physical presence and the scarcity of resources needed to create it? Or in the non-physical environment, can we find new ways to assess preciousness?", reads one of the posts on The Fabricant's Instagram page.
The ostensible motive is to create value without depleting precious resources and robbing communities of intensive, and often underpaid labor - a charge on fast fashion that has for decades continued business as usual with a "here today - gone tomorrow" system thriving on quick successive fashion seasons, that render an expensive garment, with a huge carbon footprint, swiftly obsolete and out of fashion in a span of not more than 2 to 3 months.
High fashion in the West would like to be absolved off this culpability at least as a matter of smart marketing manoeuvre if not as a collective accountability to the pressing issue of global scale waste and pollution that it is responsible for.
And no wonder then that High Fashion brands like Jill Sander, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Prada, and Pucci are also moving in to benefit their business process from this technology.
It would sound like a win-win situation to you, if as fashion buyer you were told that not only could you now skip arduous fittings and the hassles of storage, inventory and maintenance, you would also be contributing to environmentally conscious fashion wear and sustainable consumption.
"Shut up and take my money ?" , Indeed, you may be tempted to say that.
However consider this, as has happened with iLil Miquela - the digital fashion influencer, created in 2016, using motion graphics, by the Los Angeles-based start-up named Brud , led by Trevor McFedries; the lines between the real and the virtual are more perplexingly blurred than ever before.
True that fast fashion has an unmistakably large carbon footprint, but it is also an industry that employs millions of skilled and unskilled craftspeople, artisans, and labour.
While they have never been the ones to fill their coffers with the profits from high fashion sales, with digital fashion that imbalance would only tip further away from them.
Unlike Ethnic fashion industries, such as the Indian ethnic wear businesses, which are consciously moving towards progressively less exploitative and fairer business practices, and increasing sustainability focus as well as supporting and duly rewarding the artisan, the digital couturiers have no such obligations.
“When clothing is always digital, never physical, pollution and waste reduction are non-topics. In this new world there’s no such thing as factories, supply chains and sample sizes. There are no delivery trucks to wait for, no clothes to launder and no closets to de-clutter. . . It’s sustainable by its very nature,” as The Fabricant's Instagram postulates.
On the other hand, when you take into consideration that not only does it render the traditional garment-making jobs obsolete it also makes the garment workers an inessential part of the production process.
What it means for ethnic cultures and heritage which is an important aspect of why and how we wear clothing is another question that opens up without any encouraging or definite answers.
And then at a time when more and more people are developing an awareness to the expanse and impact of virtual reality in their lives, Digital Couture encourages fashion buyers to invest value in a non-tangible purchase, another fragment of virtual reality that endorses the importance of your virtual existence and how your online avatar is perceived, far removed from your actual and real physical well being and existence.
So what is next ? digital-interiors to keep up with the digital-Joneses, or digital-spouses - modeled after your favourite celeb to burn the on lookers.. ? there is no knowing; is there ? and is there an end to the grasp of the virtual over the real ? For now all we have are questions.
Digital Couture is here to stay - but are homo-sapiens ready to become digi-sapiens, already ?
Article By : Bhavna R