Burberry’s spring/summer 2021 show announcement stated that “Now more than ever, we have to reimagine, to change”. Sara Blonstein, an acclaimed fashion show producer, adds that “it’s the time to free ourselves from thinking that the old way is the only way”.
With this in mind, many ponder how can an immersive, physical story of a collection be translated online, whilst achieving the same multisensory experience and emotional engagement. The answer will always be – it will never be the same. “Why should it be the same? Why would we even want it to be the same?” asks journalist Steve Salter.
Matthew Drinkwater, head of Fashion Innovation Agency based at the London College of Fashion, further explains that “the next few fashion seasons will spark a period of forced adoption, forced experimentation, and forced technological acceleration, because this is a time when everyone either has to try everything online or just not do it. Over the coming eighteen months we’ll see what will work and what won’t”.
Thrilled by a range of emerging possibilities as the technology unlocks new worlds, today we have gathered a list of 6 technologies that will change the way we experience, consume and create fashion.
1. DIGITAL GARMENTS
With a history of overconsumption of physical products and bad press regarding the environmental impacts fashion has on the planet’s resources, digital garments seem to be a solution that many brands and designers are interested to explore.
But what is a digital garment? It is a 3D rendered item that only exists virtually. Inhabiting this realm, it has the potential to adopt usual shapes, sizes and patterns but it is also equipped in an opportunity to explore an otherworldly aesthetic.
More importantly, in the environmental context, it responds to the ‘me’-culture, which is one of the fast fashion drivers, by offering a virtual solution without the need to actually produce a physical garment to make a social media look appear new and unique.
One of the brands exploring this ideology is a first digital only fashion house The Fabricant, which promotes its garments by stating that “we waste nothing but data and exploit nothing by our imagination.” Their first digital couture was titled ‘Iridescence’ and auctioned on the blockchain for charity for $9.500.
All of this was pioneered by Carlings, a Scandinavian brand, which in reaction to reports of influencers buying one-off outfits solely for Instagram, launched its first digital-only collection. It was titled ‘Neo-Ex’ and sold out in a week.
One of social media’s influencers, Daria Simonova, concluded on the idea of digital garment market by saying “I really love this idea because firstly, it’s environmentally-friendly and secondly, clothing nowadays is more like an art form for social media. Digital clothing is super convenient, and the design potential is huge because it’s way cheaper.”
2. DIGITAL FILTER
Digital garments do not necessarily need to be sold. They can be created and used as either a filter or AR based “try-on” solution. These can be either available via brand’s own app or through social media platforms like Instagram or Snapchat.
One of the brands who introduced an augmented reality technology that allows customers to virtually try on its shoes on platform Snapchat is Gucci. Such approach can be immediately extended by a shoppable feature.
Instagram, very famous for its unique face filters, has partnered with one of the aforementioned brands – Carlings – to produce a first-of-its-kind augmented reality T-shirt named “The Last Statement T-Shirt”. This filter is functional only on Instagram and Facebook platforms and allows the youth rebellion statements to be reinvented for the digital age.
3. DIGITAL SHOW
London Fashion Week saw its first digital showcase in June 2020. It was followed by Couture Fashion Week in July 2020, which saw a number of high-end and luxury labels such as Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Dior and Valentino, introduce virtual fashion shows and short films.
However, this trend has begun earlier with many brands beginning to broadcast their high-budget productions through social media platforms like Instagram. Such an approach allowed the big brands like Victoria Beckham to create a bridge of inclusivity between them, trend-setters and their consumers globally.
In 2020, this was followed by announcements of audience-free shows or presentations that can only be watched via livestream. Brands whose juices flourished through this new opportunity include Burberry who were able to explore a new setting in a forest as well as showcase their presentation through Amazon-owned platform Twitch.
Other brands like Paloma Wool decided to tone down the high-luxury execution and asked friends and family of the brand to model its latest collection. Tana Latorre from the brand states that “they had no briefing, all they had to do was model the pieces however they wanted. It was nice to see each individual be able to style the looks in their own way.” It definitely wasn’t the same as a physical event, but for all of us stuck at home it came across approachable and easy to connect with the brand.
4. CGI MODELS
With campaigns, fashion shoots and fashion shows being gradually translated into the digital realm we notice an emergence of a new breed of models. These beautifully crafted characters are CGI in their entirety. And despite having a new, digital format for this profession, we see a continuation of old school management – a modelling agency.
The Diigitals Agency is the world’s first all-digital modelling agency with a roster of CGI models that already became faces of several advertising campaigns for brands such as Christian Louboutin, Samsung, Balmain and were featured in Cosmopolitan, Vogue Australia and Vogue Arabia.
At the moment, the agency has 7 models: Shudu, Dagny, Brenn, Koffi, Aspen, Boyce and Galaxia with Shudu being promoted as the world’s first digital model and so far achieving a record number of 209K followers on Instagram (@shudu.gram).
Some brands however choose to create their own models such as an Australian design duo Ralph & Russo. This brand used artificial intelligence to create an avatar to present their June 2020 collection.
Not all digital campaigns however focus on these new stars. Some turn celebrities into CGI models. A pioneering example is Burberry’s Summer Monogram campaign where a 3D avatar was created of one of the world’s most recognisable models – Kendall Jenner – lounging in a 3D world.
AR has been changing how consumer experience fashion for several years now, however today it’s speed and impact are increasing.
One of the avenues for AR are try-on and friction free services that are in high demand with shopping being dramatically transferred into the digital. Essentially, the smartphone has become a lens through which garment trying and purchasing is experienced.
One of these early examples is a collaboration between Dior and Rimowa. who created a Snapchat filter, which introduced their collaborative capsule collection. Through one of three filters – the face lens, world lens and marker tech lens – the viewer can engage with various products. To exemplify, the world lens portrays a futuristic car, where a Rimowa x Dior suitcase can be discovered.
Another interesting use was explored by Yoox x Net-a-Porter. The online retailer worked with HoloMe to present how holograms could be used to elevate the luxury online shopping experience. It allowed the customer to engage in a personal shopping session where a stylist and real model were transported to wherever in the world you were shopping through the click in an app.
With platforms like Jadu Hologram (which allow the audience to perform with their favourite artist through use of AR) and proof-of-concept first fashion show streamed to the global audience through use of HoloMe gaining traction we will surely see more dynamism and attention grabbing exploration within this area.
To accelerate this new era for fashion, Verizon Media’s in-house creative studio – RYOT – has created “The Fabric Of Reality”, a daring immersive fashion experience where three emerging designers were paired up with virtual reality artists to create a unique collaboration. The entire project was in partnership with Kaleidoscope, the Museum of Other Realities (MOR) and the Fashion Innovation Agency (FIA) at London College of Fashion, UAL.
The final outcome allowed audiences around the world to see and interact with 3 garments via VR headsets. It also produced a new form of engagement with a visual show. Overall, the experience featured an exhibition room where the designers’ sculptural garments were showcased. Each garment had a portal, which allowed the viewer to enter a multi-dimensional environment that would never be possible to experience outside of VR.
Here at Nirvana CPH we are technology enthusiasts and are continuously researching insights and possibilities for our roster of clients. If you are interested to explore how your brand could utilise immersive technologies, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team via firstname.lastname@example.org