Future fashion: does that dress come in digital? – ComputerWeekly.com

By on December 14, 2019

Skin in the game

No-one knows if a Ready Player One-style existence awaits us all, but there are multiple examples of science fiction becoming reality. And no-one knows for certain how the proposed new form of fashion might pan out, but several e-commerce and gaming trends suggest its emergence is feasible.

In Epic Games’ global video game hit, Fortnite, players are encouraged to purchase new “skins” to use as they complete their PlayStation, Xbox or other console-supported quest. Here lies a precedent for buying a look solely for an avatar.

Meanwhile, luxury fashion e-tailer Yoox’s mobile app allows users to dress an avatar, called Daisy, with clothes they might wish to purchase online. The functionality was updated in November, allowing consumers to add their own photographs to create digital versions of themselves trying on clothes online.

When considering these developments alongside bigger societal issues, such as growing concerns over the carbon footprint of clothing manufacturing, and the rise of social media, selfies and “influencers”, the case for a digital fashion market strengthens.

Jonathan Chippindale, CEO of digital agency Holition, suggests we are in the “earliest scratchings” of the development of digital fashion – but it’s an area his business is putting its weight behind.

“If I’m prepared to pay a bit of money to pay for a digital skin on a digital avatar in the digital world, surely there must be money to be made through buying digital skin for a real person in the real world,” he says.

“Mighty oaks from small acorns grow, and we’re at the smallest of acorns at the moment, but there are green shoots – and from a consumer point of view, there is a demand.

“It’s predicated on that relatively recent idea all of us have an online persona and an offline persona. Increasingly, our online persona is a valuable asset.”

He cites closer relationships between fashion and gaming – for example, Louis Vuitton’s sponsorship of Riot Games’ League of Legends esports competition – as evidence of different worlds colliding that might be a genesis for new markets to blossom.

Whatever that environment might look like, The Fabricant wants to be at the cutting edge of it. Looking forward to 2045 – the year Ready Player One is set and when one might surmise multiple platforms or marketplaces have been created to support the commercialisation of digital fashion – Murphy has grand ambitions.

“We would see ourselves as the Gucci of digital fashion in 2045, where we are the largest luxury digital fashion house, competing against other digital fashion houses,” he says. “Because every fashion designer is going to be a digital fashion designer in 25 years from now.”

As his final point suggests, Murphy views these early days of digital fashion as the start of a restructuring of an entire industry.

Murphy went to film school and has a background in marketing and 3D design – and even has a 360-degree digital body scan of himself that he can ‘dress’ to showcase the potential of the industry he wants to drive. But he’s confident digital fashion will go mainstream, and not simply be contained to his circles.

In May, The Fabricant sold a digital-only dress for $9,500 in a blockchain auction. The virtual garment, ‘Iridescence’, was bought at the blockchain platform Ethereal’s New York summit, in what was a fashion industry first and a statement of intent.

“Instead of translating current fashion industry business models to a digital version, new-style fashion houses are going to combine tech and fashion design so the language and industry evolves to become something different to today,” Murphy says.

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Future fashion: does that dress come in digital? – ComputerWeekly.com
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