With everyone heading into the metaverse, why should the fashion industry be left behind?
The fashion industry is always on top of the game, quickly adapting to any innovative technologies that might come its way. From using virtual influencers to promoting their products to creating their own metaverses, fashion retailers have been actively expanding their horizons. On February 14 this year, we saw the launch of the metaverse fashion week in the Second Life metaverse.
If you are an entrepreneur with your own fashion-based startup, you must be buzzing with curiosity on what the intersections of fashion and tech look like. If so, look no further. Here is a deep dive into some new and interesting technological changes taking place within the fashion industry.
Inside the Metaverse Fashion Week
The first-ever Metaverse Fashion Week showcased the creations of high-end women’s fashion designer and New York Fashion Week staple Jonathan Simkhai. Ever since Simkhai’s brand first came around the fashion scene in 2010, it has been actively designing garments that are perfect for the day-to-day life of a modern woman. The brand’s aesthetic philosophy plays with the tension between feminine strength and sensuality. This is reflected in the employment of customized fabrics, romantic detailing, linear lines and contoured silhouettes in its designs.
Simkhai consistently explores technological themes in his work. Thus, the designer collaborated with metaverse investor and developer EveryRealm and digital fashion company Blueberry Entertainment to work on the Metaverse Fashion Week. The pieces up for grabs in the event are digital recreations of Simkhai’s collection for the New York Fashion Week.
Six looks from the collection have been converted into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that can be worn on 1,400 partner platforms, including Somnium Space, Pixelynx and others that collaborate with the cross-game avatar platform Ready Player Me. All who showed up for Simkhai’s metaverse debut were wearing pieces designed by him.
Digital influences in the New York Fashion Week
Besides the Metaverse Fashion Week, there were other digital influences percolating into this year’s New York Fashion Week. Designer Maisie Schloss leaned into the realm of digital fantasy and displayed the latest collection for her label, Maisie Wilen, on seven-foot-tall holographic models. The holographic models performed repetitive actions like GIFs (graphics interchange format). The collection was inspired by Mattel’s 2010 doll franchise “Monster High”, with the models wearing blue and green body paint, pointed ears and fins.
Another interesting collection from New York Fashion Week this year was from the Los Angeles-based brand Tombogo. The brand collaborated with the holographic machine manufacturer Portl to display ten looks from its collection remotely across the United States. Unlike in Maisie Schloss’s collection, these holograms projected real-time visuals of real-life models, including Junebug, Yeek, Julius Caesar, Aerin Creer, Phabo and Caleborate, wearing Tombogo’s pieces.
Why is the fashion industry changing so rapidly?
The key reason behind this switch to the digital realm is the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only does it make it hard to gather a large audience for fashion shows, but it also reduces the utility of buying into the latest trends when people have nowhere to go.
Adapting to the digital space also opens up avenues of self-expression for designers. For instance, Schloss says, “We’re no longer tethered to things that we can show during a traditional fashion show,” and that this helps designers like her in blurring the lines between reality and fantasy.
Others, like London Fashion Week’s principal sponsor Clearpay, believe that a shift towards digital will increase accessibility. Clearpay has partnered with the fashion brand Roksanda to create an NFT of the brand’s finale look for the London Fashion Week. The NFT will have an augmented reality (AR) function, which will allow customers to virtually try on the NFT before they decide to make a purchase.
Nick Molnar, Co-Founder and CEO of Clearpay, says, “We’re proud to be able to help democratize fashion, and enable consumers to buy, interact and engage with Roksanda’s artistry in such an innovative way.”
As of February 21, items from Simkhai’s collection are up for grabs on OpenSea with average bids ranging from 0.08 ETH to 1 ETH. If you want to purchase one, you’ve got to rush before the entire collection sells out.
Header image courtesy of Everyrealm