by Katie Nalle
Ethical awareness is a hotter topic than ever before. Sustainability is trending and knowing where the clothes we’re wearing come from is a must. Thrift shopping and buying second-hand clothing while using apps like Depop, Poshmark, and Mercari are the most popular ways to buy sustainably at the moment, but what if there was another way?
Digital clothing is built using 3D computer software and is only available online. These clothes are purchased, similarly to NFTs, and superimposed onto images of models. They are more affordable than designer clothing due to the fact that instead of being mass-produced they can essentially be digitally copied and pasted. Although, right now, the technology used to create these garments is not totally flawless, meaning that the clothing doesn’t look as real as it could. As more designers shift toward digitizing their designs, the technology will only become more advanced and realistic. To buy and wear a digital garment, users will first go to a retailer, such as DressX’s website, purchase the item, and then send a photo of themselves in which they would like to be wearing the garment. The retailer will then apply the digital item to the photo and send it back to the consumer. This solves the issue with the one-time use of clothing in designer fashion. Many celebrities and influencers purchase or are gifted designer garments that will most likely only be worn once at an event or for a social media post. The shift from this trend to digital clothing will increase sustainability in high fashion.
Some speculate that the popularization of digital fashion could make designer clothing more accessible to the masses as well. In 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, designers made a shift from in-person marketing and events to online media. They were still producing physical garments for fashion events, including Milan Fashion Week, which was moved online. The digitization of these primarily exclusive events led to a much broader audience being able to “attend” by streaming the shows online. This switch led to greater exposure of high fashion for people who ordinarily would not be able to experience or see these pieces, which in turn will hopefully lead to people of non-celebrity status wanting to, and soon being able to, purchase designer clothing digitally.
Digital influencers have played a large role in spreading the news about digital fashion. One key player in this has been Lil Miquela. She’s just like any other influencer; creating sponsored content, showing off her outfits, and talking to her followers through social media, except that she’s portrayed by an animated avatar. Of course, there is a real person behind the avatar who speaks for Lil Miquela, runs her account, and does everything else required of an influencer. This digital influencer is often shown wearing digital clothing in her posts. She has even become a brand ambassador for PacSun. Her relationship with PacSun has sparked a backlash from netizens; that is because people believe that having an avatar modeling the clothes is false advertisement since the clothing will always fit her better than they would a real consumer.
Most clothing purchased today is purchased to show off or to “flex.” Digital garments allow us to show off our designer clothes for everyone on social media to see without wasting water, fabric, and labor on producing garments. This may seem far-fetched now, but with the popularization of NFTs and other forms of intangible digital products, we should expect to see digital clothing more often online than we do today.