designers are now selling ‘digital clothes’ that don’t actually exist

a solution to one of the world’s major eco problems might involve creating clothes that don’t actually exist. digital fashion, which refers to 3D-rendered garments that only exist virtually, is a very real idea that offers much greener, zero-waste alternatives in a world with growing fears over waste and concerns about the negative effects of manufacturing.

designers are now selling 'digital clothes' that don't actually exist

designers are now selling 'digital clothes' that don't actually exist

image courtesy of the fabricant
header image courtesy of carlings

digital fashion can be dressed on a digital avatar or overlayed on an image of a person, but rarely actually exists in the real world (unless a digital copy of a real piece of clothing). and whilst it seems odd, it could have quite lucrative ‘real-world’ applications, especially within the heavily digitized world we are living in.

it’s not an entirely new idea. back 2016, web avatar site bitmoji teamed up with bergdorf goodman to allow users to dress their avatars in looks from fashion brands such as zac posen, alexander mcqueen, calvin klein and other top designers. then, in 2018, scandinavian retailer carlings released its first digital clothing collection, called neo-ex, a 19-piece genderless collection cost at relatively low price points (between €10 to €30, or roughly $11 to $33 USD.)

designers are now selling 'digital clothes' that don't actually exist

designers are now selling 'digital clothes' that don't actually exist

image courtesy of carlings

more recently, in may 2019, a one-of-a-kind digital design from the fabricant, a dutch startup and the world’s first digital-only fashion house, sold for $9,500 at a blockchain conference. the company was founded in january 2018 by finnish animator kerry murphy, who was inspired by fashion student, amber slooten’s all-digital graduate portfolio, which was modelled by holograms. virtual pieces of clothes such as this could offer a sustainable alternative to fast fashion, whilst providing the ‘me’-culture heavily populating social media with new looks without having to actually produce physical garments.

all other images courtesy of the fabricant

a pop-up store in london is giving consumers a chance to try on digital garments to test their commercial potential, a chance to see the commercial validity of such an idea. dubbed ‘hot second’, it invites visitors to donate an unwanted piece of clothing in exchange for a digital garment. guests are led into pods equipped with a camera, projector and a ‘magic mirror’ to sample looks from the fabricant and carlings, as well as british designer christopher raeburn. shoppers can take home digital images and photo print-outs of them in their chosen garments.

despite a second version of hot second slated to open in berlin in january, it’s doubtful that virtual fashion could ever replace the real fabric that we need to dress ourselves. but as our separate realities remain fractured over various devices, social networks, platforms and mediums, it’s not absurd to see this as the beginnings of a potentially huge market.

kieron marchese I designboom

nov 18, 2019

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