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Increasing interest: Everyone wants a piece of the digital pie.

What happens when the physical meets the digital?
Profile of boy wearing a black hoodie, holding the hood, staring ahead with red type projected across his face

It is over; the clothing industry is no longer limited to the sale of physical products.

Whether it’s dressing up your avatar or buying a digital outfit independently of a video game, luxury groups are betting on the virtual by going to consumers where they are: in front of their screens. In a recent article, Vogue magazine featured the Drest app, created by former Porter editor Lucy Yeomans, it combines shopping with gaming and describes itself as the first game dedicated to fashion in the luxury sector . The app offers digital and physical clothing in partnership with Gucci, Prada, and Valentino. Branding itself as “…a new creative platform combining editorial content, gamification, shopping and philanthropy to deliver a totally new interactive and immersive fashion experience…”

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The credibility of the fashion sector within the video game sector is becoming more and more palpable, especially when it comes to mobile games. The field seems to be ready to welcome, on a larger scale, the emerging market of digital clothing. Designed by companies that believe in clothing’s dematerialization, these pieces are only digital files and exist only in digital form.

One of the pioneers of the sector is an Amsterdam-based company, The Fabricant. The co-founder Kerry Murphy said,

“What’s happening today is that we’re building a virtual layer to our physical existence with social networks. But when you think about these social networks, they’re really quite sketchy in the sense that they’re only about the already established layer that we’re leading our lives towards. So what would be the next step? “.[1]
In a more fast fashion context and product specific to Gen Z aesthetics – Buffalo have one of the first virtual purchasable footwear developed in collaboration with The Fabricant.
There is a growing demand for digital fashion according to Marjorie Hernandez, CEO of Berlin-based startup Lukso. Lukso “makes it possible to create digital lives for real-life products,” said Andrea A. Abrams.
“We buy pretty much the same items today as we did in the last 50 years. However, apart from online shopping and new platforms, there have been no real innovations. How digitization will define the fashion industry has yet to be demonstrated. (…) Digital collectibles, digital fashion, and digital sneakers will be a huge market soon.” [2]

Luxury fashion house Gucci has recently launched a line of augmented reality sneakers. To create the sneakers, Gucci has collaborated with Wanna, a Belarus-based fashion-tech company. Wanna has previously worked with other fashion brands like Reebok and Puma and is known for creating 3D models through AR. They also worked on the Gucci app, which enables people to try on pairs of shoes through AR. [3]

The Rise of interest in digital products

The growing interest from Fashion brands is clear. They are interested in this industry because they face one of their biggest challenges: maintaining relevance in a rapidly changing industry by consistently engaging with consumers in new and innovative ways.

Moreover, the future of esports will be powered by smartphone gaming – People won’t always be able to own a PlayStation or a personal computer. People can’t carry their PCs and Playstations everywhere, which will further reduce barriers to entry and allow even more gamers and fans to pour in. The mobile gaming segment is set to make up 45% of the total global games market this year. That popularity is already spilling over into some competitive spaces, as China already has a thriving mobile esports scene.

Experts explained something interesting: investment banking had given them crucial insight into how financial institutions use natural language processing algorithms to analyze large amounts of online data from Twitter to predict market and stock price shifts. Applying this concept to fashion, they explained that the Gen Z community’s online interactions have notable language traits. These can be analyzed to determine preference for certain products and other key factors defining the next fashion trends. The e-commerce fashion retailer Stitch Fix reached profitability in the increasingly crowded fashion space thanks to this technology.

(For example – So by extracting this information, brands are able to target specific consumer groups and better define and predict future trends and production output of both digital and physical products. The scope is huge because it could influence the colour or print of a whole collection so that means it could directly impact how designers develop collections. And could redefine the role of the designer – we already see luxury brands advertising for more digital skilled and digital data researchers)

The rise of the digital human is on both sides – the consumer and the producer.

Discuss

  • Have you seen digital products?
  • Would they buy digital garments?
  • Do you or anyone you know work in or create digital products?

Share your answers with your peers in the comments below.

References:

  1. https://www.dezeen.com/2021/01/28/buffalo-london-the-fabricant-classic-burningfor/
  2. https://www.bandt.com.au/gucci-release-12-virtual-reality-sneakers/
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/sharonedelson/2020/11/02/blockchain-startup-lukso-explains-the-digital-wardrobe-and-why-youll-want-one/?sh=7f486e43f390
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