How games and digital products are impacting the future of fashion – Footwear News
Fashion may have to do with aesthetics, but it’s also a multisensory experience. For designers and consumers alike, the feel of a product can be as significant as the item’s appearance when worn – and for leather goods and accessories, even the smell comes into play. is why the fashion industry’s shift to the virtual world may seem counterintuitive. Or maybe not.
“Fashion is the latest creative industry to embrace digitalization, and change is long overdue,” said Michaela Larosse, communications manager for digital fashion house The Manufacturer. “Whether you watch film, music or photography, the transition to digital practices is already a fundamental and growing part of every industry. We already spend much of our lives online, and the near-global lockdown forced by the pandemic has made the fashion industry and consumers aware of the need to digitize. “
The main focus of these digital efforts has been to support the sale of physical products. In recent years, shoe and clothing designers have increasingly digitized their back-end processes, replacing hand-drawn models with software prototypes. And others are showing creativity in their approach to e-commerce, developing interactive experiences through augmented and virtual reality, or using 3D product assets to make online purchases more reliable.
But a small, but growing group of companies are focusing on the virtual experience as an end goal in itself. Building on the enormous growth of the world of online games and entertainment, they allow brands to reach new customers and sell them products, even if they are worn only by their avatar.
At Drest, a fashion styling app founded by former fashion editor and e-commerce executive Lucy Yeomans, virtual products are the stars. Real fashion products are rendered digitally for use in the app. Users can create outfits around a specific product or for a specific event, allowing them to see how different pieces can work together, both in the digital world and in the real world.
“What I’ve tried to do with Drest is take all the real world elements – whether it’s a hairstyle from Sam Knight or a dress from Gucci – and replicate them in this beautiful virtual space,” he said. Yeomans said. “People can come and still be with the product, but it can be done on a large scale, it can be done in a very sustainable way, and they can really engage in storytelling in a much more immersive environment.”
For Yeomans, the duality of the physical and virtual product is critical. Fashion, especially luxury fashion, has always had an element of aspiration; digital products allow discovery to be democratized, if only in a virtual domain. For brands, it offers a new way to share their creations with a larger audience, without diluting the exclusivity of the products themselves.
It is this expanded exposure that makes Drest pure entertainment into a potential source of revenue for the brand. Young consumers, or anyone who is not currently in a position to purchase luxury goods, can still explore the collections and establish a relationship with these brands, which could prompt purchases in the future. For those who are able to buy now, Drest offers the possibility to do so through its partnership with luxury e-merchant Farfetch.
Then there are brand partnerships, which allow companies to create a narrative around the individual styles they want to showcase. Drest will launch styling challenges around a particular product or campaign theme, inviting users to spend time engaging with that item and styling it for actual use.
“It’s so focused because you can’t participate in the challenge unless you’re playing with that same product,” Yeomans said. “It’s different from an ad campaign, where you could watch it but get distracted by the model or the location. In fact, you have to come in and use this product.
With Drest, the focus is on play rather than product acquisition. But for The Manufacturer and digital retailer Dress-X, virtual goods are a commodity to be bought and used in the online ecosystem. And they don’t need to be rooted in reality at all.
Freed from the demands of the physical world, designers can use digital products to explore fantastic interpretations of a brand’s identity. This allows them to ignore the cost and logistics of certain materials, or even abandon realistic materials altogether. For example, Buffalo London has partnered with The Manufacturer to produce a pair of flaming sneakers.
“From the consumer’s point of view, the digital fashion environment is this vast untapped creative land where anything is possible, without limits or borders. It’s an open lens for the imagination, ”said Larosse. “When you are dressed digitally, you can wear materials that are impossible in real life, like waterfalls or clouds.”
Digital products may seem like a fun gadget to the uninitiated, but they represent a growing business. Dress-X sells digital-only products, which they will render in a chosen image when purchased. For social media users, this allows for a larger volume of outfits to be styled and published at a fraction of the cost of a physical outfit and without any of the waste associated with it.
Sustainability is a growing concern for brands and consumers, and digital products offer an attractive compromise. And as the technology develops, connecting different virtual platforms into a unified metaverse, the commodity will be able to travel through video games and other digital worlds. Blockchain technology allows these assets to be tokenized, for resale or donation as needed, much like a physical product.
“From our perspective, as 3D specialists working at the intersection of fashion and technology, we envision a world where digital clothing replaces physical inventory when possible,” Larosse said. “The non-physical world has become our primary tool for human connection and self-expression. In this context, it is inevitable that screenwear has become the new streetwear.