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Is Digital Fashion Really The Future?

Updated: May 22, 2023

The world is moving fast and there is so much to keep up with! There's been a lot of talk about the future of fashion and what's next in the industry. The concept of digital fashion in particular, is something which really intrigues us at THE FASHION BLUEPRINT. We love innovation in all forms (especially when there is a sustainable angle to it) so during the month of March we explored some of the industry trends happening in the digital sphere - particularly fashion in the Metaverse and NFTs. Here's a digestible round-up of what it all means and how we see it impacting the way we operate in the fashion industry.


digital fashion ai fashion show the fashion blueprint metaverse fashion tech ai fashion week

AI Fashion Week

What is the Metaverse?


Talking about the Metaverse in 2022 is like talking about the Internet in 1975. It seems like a far-fetched idea and not many people really get it but tech companies and other entities are working very hard to develop it and push it to mainstream audiences in the near future - so what is it exactly?


The Metaverse isn't actually a space in itself, it's more of a reference to the shift in how we all interact with technology - it can go from virtual reality to a digital economy and NFTs for example. In essence, the metaverse is an immersive digital world which uses AI tools to engage with its users.


Where does fashion fit into it all?


The conversations around the Metaverse and fashion are multi-layered. One key thing which has made it seem attractive is the sustainability factor: brands can significantly reduce waste (a HUGE problem in the fashion industry) by producing clothing digitally. However, looking into it closely, it can be argued that digital clothing created in the form of NFTs can actually have a substantial carbon footprint: one single NFT can have the same carbon footprint as two full months of electricity usage for a single resident. No one really knows how the overall footprint of digital fashion measures against standard fashion practices.


What are NFTs?


NFT’s (non-fungible tokens) refer to digital assets which are one of a kind. It can be anything digital, from music to virtual art, AI and so on. They can be created as jpg, png, .mov or 3D files.


How do they work?


NFTs function as valuable items traded within the digital space. They are part of the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum is a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin. This is a whole topic in itself so we will get into it at another point. Fun fact: some fashion brands actually accept payment via cryptocurrency which is super cool!


How do NFTs concern me as a Fashion Entrepreneur?


NFTs have mostly been buzzing in the art world so you already know the fashion industry was quick to follow suit. Customers haven’t been buying physical clothing as much as before the pandemic but believe it or not they have been buying digital clothing - particular luxury shoppers. Brands from Balenciaga and Ralph Lauren, to Nike, Vans, Tongoro and Hanifa have expanded into the digital Metaverse rolling out fashion avatars, gaming, digital magazines and virtual fashion shows.


Should I try and create a NFT?


If you have the budget and capabilities then yes, definitely. This is a peak into the possible future of fashion. Who doesn’t want to be a pioneer?


mason rothschild metabirkins digital fashion ai fashion show the fashion blueprint metaverse fashion tech ai fashion week

MetaBirkins, a collection of 100 unique NFTs created by Mason Rothschild

Retailing at 3.8ETH (approx. $3,506)


Is digital fashion really the future?


Investment bank Morgan Stanley estimates the virtual fashion market could be worth more than $55 billion by 2030. Even though it's evident that there is money to be made in the Metaverse, we are still not convinced it will have much success on a mainstream level for another 10 years at least. Remember technology advancements have taken off at a much faster pace that humans have been able to adapt to. Even social media has a significant detriment to users' mental health (for being an artificial world where toxic positivity and unrealistic standards are acceptable and aggressively pushed forward by the algorithm). We can only imagine the effects of actually primarily 'living' in an artificial world where everything is perfect and we can acquire and operate as our ideal identities - how will humans then be able to operate in the actual real world? It's giving Black Mirror vibes.


Having said that however, there is a high chance that older affluent millennials looking to invest (remember NFTs are unique, therefore can appreciate in value), as well as younger audiences such as Gen Zs (in a few years) and particularly the subsegment of 'gamers' will be key target markets for brands looking to expand into the Metaverse.


In summary, we don't think digital fashion will ever fully replace physical fashion but it's very possible that a percentage of the market will be highly involved in the Metaverse and choose to spend their income there - an opportunity which fashion brands can tap into, whether fully or as an exclusive part of their offering.

 

Written by Giovanna Vieira Co, 2022



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