Virtual clothing: a waste of money or a way to save the planet in style?

A Gucci bag for several thousand dollars is not news. But a Gucci bag that can only be carried on the metavers for more than its IRL counterpart is certainly eye-catching.

In May, Gucci welcomed spring into the virtual world when it opened Gucci Garden on the Roblox gaming platform. Her Dionysus bag embroidered with bees was one of the items that could be bought. Priced at 475 Robux (the game’s world currency), it reached $ 6, or much less than its actual price of $ 3,400. But just like in real life, the virtual world resale market can be a seller’s game and bids on the stock market skyrocketed. One sold for 350,000 Robux, or $ 4,115.

These exclusive online outfits are a trend that fashion brands of all stripes are leaving behind. The Gucci Garden, an immersive setting designed to mimic a real installation in Florence, Italy, was just the luxury brand’s latest virtual offering. Under the reign of designer Alessandro Michele, the brand has increased the level of accessory games of characters from The Sims 4 and Pokémon Trainers, who can collect items from The North Face x Gucci collection at 100 PokéStops located in the Gucci pins. And the Gucci Virtual 25 sneakers can be worn by Roblox avatars and the VRChat social networking platform.

North Face x Gucci Collection

The entire collection is also available on the Gucci app for $ 11.99 for customers who want to wear them in augmented reality photos and videos.

Michele is one of the most eye-catching fashion designers today; possibly only the superior Virgil Abloh. Founder of the luxury brand Streetwear Off-White, Abloh is known in part for his Dadaist work, such as what he did for Ikea which featured watches that said “Temporary” and bags that proclaimed themselves “Sculpture”. Since then, he has contributed his audacity and innovation to Louis Vuitton as artistic director of his men’s clothing collection, part of which will take place in the metaverse.

“[F]it’s not true at all, the real world is just a part-time metaverse, “Abloh wrote in a February Instagram post talking about the mix of physical and digital things.” Now back to that “think-tank “My Ready Player-esque.”

Abloh later told venture capitalist Matthew Ball: “I want to make virtual clothes to paint images that physical clothes can’t and let shoppers access a new dimension of their personal style, regardless of who they are, where they live and the virtual worlds they love. “

“I’m helping [him] create exactly that kind of brand, ”Ball wrote in a blog post.

In-app purchases, but they are becoming fashionable

The road there has already been paved by companies such as The Fabricant, which is proposed as “a digital fashion house that directs the fashion industry towards a new sector of digital-only clothing.” Their pieces have a 3D model so that customers can wear them in virtual reality environments. Properly, they can only be purchased on Ethereum.

dark iphone modeThe manufacturer’s Nari-inspired NFT digital fashion line.

Michaela Larosse, who works in creative strategy and communications at The Fabricant, says digital fashion is the evolution of video game skins. “Physical fashion brands are starting to repeat themselves in this space, as the global revenue from in-game purchases is already huge and digital fashion will be a part of it,” he says.

Visit the Tribute Brand site and you will receive a message of the future: “This is the platform for contactless and cybernetic fashion.” The digital-only brand sells limited edition pieces, already made and customized, at first-rate prices in the real world. Once an item is purchased, the customer sends a photo of themselves to obtain a digital accessory and in a few days receives an image of them in their new equipment.

The DressX digital fashion market works similarly, although customers first upload a photo and present it along with the purchase of an item, such as warrior pants and Sofia Vaiman fashion student top / video games.

Before pressing the buy button, shoppers will see a statement that includes the phrase: “The 100% digital collection did not require material fabrics, water or CO2 for shipments and shipments, creating the plan for traditional fashion institutions and optimizing arts education in the 21st century. ”

four options in DressX


Fight against climate change with a digital closet

Sustainability is an important part of what DressX sells. “Don’t buy less, buy digital fashion,” says his vision statement. This comes down to one of the things driving the expansion of digital fashion: the terrible reputation of fast fashion.

The rapid production of garments to satisfy the endless fashion seasons that pass through the internet is an ecological and labor nightmare. Fast fashion contributes significantly to climate change and creates an immense amount of waste when your products are soon thrown away as they go out of fashion or deteriorate rapidly. The working conditions and remuneration of garment workers are exploitative and sometimes deadly.

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Social media is full of fashion, with influencers displaying dresses after dresses from huge stacks that piled up from places like Shein, which has facilities in China that produce incredibly cheap clothes that have trends like madness at TikTok . Much of this clothing is not made outside of publications, so a digital alternative can save money for influential aspirants and give some respite to the environment.

“The Manufacturer was created for the same reason: to create beautiful pieces that allow us to explore our identity in an innovative way without the planet paying the price for our desire to express ourselves,” says Larosse. “The reality is we just don’t need any more physical stuff or waste any of our precious natural resources just to leave our clothes sitting in closets or end up in a landfill.”

Digital model wearing a white dress over her shoulder with orange trim

The manufacturer

Digital fashion can also be more inclusive, as clothing fits a photo or avatar instead of a human body. While there has been a push to expand in size in an industry built primarily with straight-sized brands, there are still inequalities when larger customers face a shelf in a clothing store. And for those who want to experiment with gender norms in dress, doing so in a digital space may be more comfortable than in an audience.

All disguised and nowhere to go

It would be hard to ignore another reason why we see more digital fashion: in the face of a pandemic, we haven’t been able to experience much off-screen. If the clothes are about seeing and being seen, the place where they are seen has changed radically.

“Initially, our work was considered an interesting atypical value, but not something in which physical brands felt the need to participate,” says Larosse. “The pandemic drastically changed the outlook for what we do and made the benefits of our work very tangible.”

Balenciaga designer Demna Gvsalia showed off the brand’s fall / winter virtual reality show by sending 330 Oculus headphones to guests. The Spring / Summer 2022 collection was presented in video form, with a fake audience and a cloned model with deepfake technology to look like a complete gaggle on the track.

At the end of the day, or more likely in a year, we will leave. People are neither 1 nor 0 years old populating a virtual reality world. We are living a real one, but sometimes we have to play to find out what we want.

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