The next fashion trend is clothes that don’t exist
An employee holds a mobile device with the bonprix app during a press conference in the new Bonprix Pilot store in downtown Hamburg, Germany. Photo: AFP
A new pilot Bonprix store in downtown Hamburg, Germany Under the motto “fashion connect”, Bonprix, a company of the Otto group, wishes to combine the advantages of fixed-line retail with the possibilities of online shopping. Photo: AFP
The online metaverse is coming and if we’re going to be spending more time in virtual worlds, there’s a crucial question: what are you going to wear?
“When I first started talking about it, my friends were like, ‘What are you talking about?’” Said Daniella Loftus, 27.
“But my 14 year old cousins got it right away.”
For many, the idea of buying clothes that don’t exist is a conceptual leap too far.
But emerging digital fashion stores are tapping into a growing market – not real clothes, but digitally generated outfits that simply store photoshop on a customer’s photos or videos for posting on Instagram and elsewhere.
Soon, they’ll likely become a way to dress up your avatar when interacting in online games and hangouts, potentially all while lying in sweatpants in your own home.
British influencer Loftus sees so much potential that in September she gave up her job at a fashion consulting firm to devote herself full-time to her website, This Outfit Does Not Exist.
Her Instagram shows the potential of virtual clothing that doesn’t need to obey the laws of physics – from a glistening silver liquid pants suit with tentacles to a flickering pink creation with lasers firing from her bustier.
“The digital is overtaking the physical. The kids are asking, ‘What skin did you have in that game yesterday?’” Said Loftus.
Isabelle Boemeke, Brazilian model and influencer, is already a passionate buyer of digital outfits.
Online, she’s known as Isodope and fuses high fashion with a serious commitment to clean energy and environmental activism.
Her otherworldly style matches her message perfectly.
“I wanted to do something very eye-catching and daring. If my videos showed me wearing a t-shirt and jeans, they wouldn’t have the same appeal,” Boemeke told AFP.
“Models today have the freedom to share more about their personal lives and their personalities. I’m a big nerd and I like to express myself in different ways through fashion or makeup.”
It’s demand, so supply is coming quickly.
The outfits on digital fashion store DressX range from hats for $ 25 to weird jellyfish-like dresses for hundreds of dollars.
“Every brand in the future will be on board digital fashion,” said DressX co-founder Daria Shapovalova.
Her own research indicates that 15% of customers do this for Instagram posts, and nearly a quarter found it satisfied their need for a new garment.
“You don’t necessarily need a physique to feel the thrill of wearing an extraordinary piece of clothing,” said Michaela Larosse, of The Manufacturer, who sold the very first digital-only dress in May 2019 for $ 9,500.
“We will all have a digital self, we will have an avatar, and you can communicate something about yourself, who you are, what interests you, through iteration of your avatar.”
Environmental concerns are also at the heart of their appeal.
The mainstream fashion industry is one of the biggest pollutants and waste generators on the planet – a point raised by Extinction Rebellion protesters who stormed the Louis Vuitton catwalk in Paris on Tuesday.
“I know a lot of women who buy an outfit, wear it once for a single photo and never again,” Boemeke said.
“They could reduce consumption and waste by using digital fashion for some of these messages.”
The pandemic has been an obvious accelerator for these companies.
“People were stuck at home doing nothing. They had nowhere to wear these nice clothes,” Loftus said.
It’s clear that digital fashion isn’t for everyone just yet – and maybe never will be.
“I’m not sure if a lot of people who do this stuff online really want to meet people in person. I think a lot of their needs and wants can be met online,” Loftus said.
It can also prove to be a great leveler – a way for antisocial people to (almost literally) shed their skin and adopt another.
“You might be an accountant with a wife, kids, and you’re happy to be pretty mundane in real life, but the way you want to express yourself in these virtual worlds is totally different,” she said. .