Virtual fashion between social networks and videogames (with a touch of blockchain)
New digital products for fashion and luxury brands.
Fashion is appearance, but, we know, appearance can be deceiving.
Do you see your videoconferencing colleague on Zoom with a flawless Armani suit? Your supervisor with an elegant Stella McCartney suit? In the online party do you observe wearing dresses by Versace, Gucci, Tom Ford?
They could all be virtual dresses, covering jumpsuits, pajamas and crumpled t-shirts.
The virtual fashion is moving, actually, the first steps but looks set to take on increasing importance in the strategies of the big brands also because of the lockdown that diminish the opportunities for “in person” social life.
We can think of two different types of virtual dress:
- a software layer that covers our digitized images (in photos and soon in videos), a bit like a more advanced filter than those we use to retouch selfies on social networks like Instagram
- an item that will be used (will be worn) by our avatars in games like Fortnite.
The first emanation has already begun to materialize (so to speak …) last year. A virtual dress, Iridescence, was created thanks to the collaboration of the Dutch “digital fashion house” The Fabricant, Dapper Labs (the guys of cryptokitties) and the AR stylist Johanna Jaskowska. Richard Ma, CEO of Quantump Stamp, bought it for his wife Mary Ren for $ 9,500. In the photo we see Ms. Ma “wearing it”.
In practice, the process requires designers / tailors to derive 2D models and adapt them to the photos sent by the customer: she/he can then share them on social networks.
Of course, the first to use this cyber-fashion are those who have their raison d’être in the virtual world, namely influencers, who often buy clothes solely for Instagram. The Norwegian company Carling, inspired by a video game, created Neo-Ex, its first “digital only”“collection, in 2018; the prices were much more affordable (a few tens of pounds) but the experiment was not followed up.
Another young digital brand is Republique, a startup based in Singapore, which makes high-fashion virtual clothes for Gen Z: here too, just send a high-resolution photo, choose a dress and a team of digital tailors will take care of making it to measure.
Under the banner of creativity that only the virtual can generate are the creations of Tribute, a Croatian startup: with figures ranging from 29 to 699 dollars you can amaze your followers with clothes that defy gravity (and sobriety…).
For the moment more focused on virtual accessories is IL3X brand.
This emerging market is beginning to interest classic fashion brands which, however, are currently exploring the other market, that of video game avatar clothes. Already with Second Life — in the early 2000s — there were attempts by well-known brands (Jean Paul Gaultier, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Lacoste) to create clothing lines for that bizarre world.
In 2019 Louis Vuitton skins for League of Legend was a collection launched by the French brand for the video game of the same name: the clothes cost $ 10 but the interesting thing is that the same designer subsequently created a line of “real” clothes and accessories with prices from 170 to 5,600 $.
One of the most vibrant virtual worlds in terms of fashion is Animal Crossing. Here there were fashion shows with anthropomorphic animals wearing dresses inspired by Loewe, Prada and GmbH. Also Valentino is active in this universe and has collaborated with Italian rapper Ghali by dressing up his avatar.
Moschino created for The Sims a double line, physical and virtual, while Adidas and Nike faced off in the battles of Fortnite.
These are only first approaches: those who deal with strategies in the world of fashion and luxury will have to take into account 2.5 billion players around the world and their ability to generate a $ 50 billion market.
We are not just talking about games but about meeting places, communities where social visibility is as important as that on this side of the screen. The rise of Twitch, the live streaming platform for video game lovers, also adds value to virtual fashion as an emerging form of marketing and advertising.
To conclude, a mention of the blockchain topic. The ability to manage digital assets is perfect for virtual fashion, allowing on the one hand to generate artificial scarcity and uniqueness (limited edition clothes and accessories, exclusive collections) on the other hand to allow the birth of an efficient and profitable “second hand market”, which can also continue to remunerate the designers and programmers who made the virtual article. Think — for example — of a digital dress with a unique id, initially “worn” by a famous influencer, which can be resold endless times while maintaining the link with its first owner.
Multiple scenarios open up for those who want to experiment.
Sources and insights
“Would You Spend Real Money on Virtual Clothes?”, Vogue.com
“Latest digital fashion trends: insights into virtual clothing”, Fashion Technology Accelerator
“In The Future Your Clothes Will Be Made Out Of Pixels”, Esquire.com