Digital Fashion: What is it? And Where is it Going?

May 30, 2022

Blockchain technology has already had a revolutionary impact on various aspects of our lives and this is no less true for the fashion industry.

In the last year, digital fashion has gone from an unknown concept to a rapidly growing industry. While some might still have not heard about digital clothing, the first Metaverse Fashion Week took place this March showcasing some of the most cutting-edge brands and styles, including Tommy Hilfiger, Paco Rabanne, Dolce & Gabbana, and Etro, as well as popular Web 3.0 brands like DeadFellaz, The Sevens, 8SIAN, and Fang Gang.  

Before we discuss how blockchain technologies apply to the digital fashion world and what potential this combination has, let’s take a step back and first discuss what digital clothing is, how it works and how it’s likely to evolve.  

What is digital clothing and where did it come from?

Digital clothing is a virtual representation of real clothing which is made from pixels rather than textiles, using 3D software and computer rendering. However, not all elements of digital fashion mimic the physical world. Many digital garments capitalise on the opportunity to create something that is not possible in real life (such as a jacket with purple flames).

The first digital clothing collection was created by the Scandinavian brand Carlings in 2018. The Neo X digital collection, ranging in price from $9 to $33 per item of ‘clothing’, was sold out in a matter of hours and became hugely popular among bloggers and influencers. According to a survey conducted on millennials, Gen Z and Gen X in 2022, one-third have already purchased at least one piece of digital clothing. Surprisingly, nearly half of them classified themselves as not crypto users, which shows that digital fashion is not just for crypto bros.

How does digital fashion work?

Digital fashion works quite simply: all you need to do is to choose a digital garment from one of the digital fashion marketplaces (such as DressX, Fabricant or XR Couture), upload your photo to their platform, pay the asking price, and you will receive your photo with your digital fashion piece professionally edited onto your body in a couple of days.  

Each marketplace also has some unique features designed to enhance their customers’ experience. For instance, DressX not only provides an opportunity to peruse a wide range of unique clothing pieces from contemporary brands to designers, but also allows customers to try the digital garment through augmented reality in their mobile app before purchasing it.

Why has digital clothing suddenly become popular?

There are a few reasons why digital fashion has started gaining in popularity. Firstly, digital clothing gets you exclusivity, but at a lower price than buying exclusive real clothes. Digital garments generally range from £10 to £200, while real fashion pieces can go up to six figures (yes, you’ve heard it right, and if you don’t believe it, check out the price tags on Hermes Birkin bags). So, for example, you can buy a digital leather jacket from Ukrainian clothing brand TTSWTRS on the DressX website for $25, while a real piece would cost you $1,570. That’s a great deal if you ask us!

Secondly, the fashion industry has a notably negative environmental and social impact. As of 2022, clothing production accounts for up to 10% of global carbon dioxide output – more than international flights and shipping combined, according to the United Nations. As such, digital fashion steps in as an eco-friendly solution as its production creates no waste, alongside avoiding any water consumption. Plus, it’s a step forward towards reducing overconsumption.

Finally, with the boom of non-fungible tokens last year, the digital clothing industry has also started seeing rapid growth. It’s worth noting that not all digital fashion and digital clothing marketplaces utilise blockchain technologies. Some are still based in the Web 2 world, but those that started moving into Web 3, have seen the biggest rewards. Thanks to NFTs, it has become possible for fashion designers to verify the original ownership of created digital clothing pieces and receive payments from their primary and secondary sales.  

What’s next for digital clothing?

While the concept of digital clothing might not be understandable to many as it will never fully replace our real garments, it will disrupt the entire fashion industry.  

Despite claims that digital fashion lacks a use case outside of social media platforms, we can already see digital clothing being utilised in video games and virtual worlds. Online video games are currently a key digital fashion shopping environment. However, the rise of the metaverse will soon result in all of us having digital versions of ourselves, allowing digital fashion to become a key component in how we shape our virtual identities.

Additionally, the fast-growing consumer desire for sustainable clothing is adding to an increased demand for blockchain apparel solutions. Moving forward, we predict most of digital fashion will be sold as NFTs, as blockchain-enabled digital fashion does not only create new business models for established fashion houses and emerging digital-only brands, but also allows them to communicate traceability information and ethical sourcing with their consumers.  

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