Trend Report: Fashion Tech and Digital Clothing

Series #2

Jess Erdman, August 2021

Fashion tech is continuing to innovate throughout the fashion industry, as brands look to provide customers with new ways to engage with products. Increased digital sophistication among customers means that fashion tech is at an advantage, now more than ever.

Customers are willing to experiment with new digital-only products, such as digital clothing. In this article, we'll go over a fashion tech trend that's likely come across your radar: digital clothing. Whether you're looking to dress your avatar or become the next Instagram influencer, digital clothing could affect how you interact with clothing (in a literal sense).

2021 has been a standout year for fashion tech. From NFTs to digital clothing, the fashion industry is rethinking how customers can interact with a product. 

We'll break down everything you need to know about digital clothing below.

 

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Realistic digital clothing could fill up your closet (and Instagram).


What is it: Digital clothing is exactly what it sounds like--digital clothing that exists only in the digital space. But, this fashion tech trend is far more realistic than previous digital clothing attempts. Customers purchase a piece of digital clothing (which could be an NFT as well), and the clothing is then overlaid with their image.

Digital-only trends are nothing new--virtual (i.e non-human) influencers are accumulating millions of followers on Instagram. The market for digital skins for avatars in games is estimated to be $40 billion, annually. But, will these trends translate to humans purchasing digital clothing?

Digital clothing fashion house Auroboros estimates that 1 in 10 people purchase clothing solely for social media. 

We can divide digital clothing trends into two categories:

Digital clothing for digital characters in the metaverse

This is digital clothing that is made for specific virtual reality or video games. Brands can sell custom-made clothing for characters.


Gucci digital clothing for Zepeto (an app that uses facial recognition to create avatars)



Digital clothing for humans

The influencers that you follow on Instagram could be the potential market for digital clothing. The clothes are digitally edited to look (somehwat) realistic in pictures. 

 



Digital couture house Auroboros offers high-end digital clothing

 



The future of digital clothing: Digital clothing is nothing new--but what’s interesting is seeing major brands such as Gucci jump into the metaverse. New, digital-only fashion houses are appearing with futuristic designs.

But, these futuristic clothes utilize primitive technology such as digital photo editing. We’d love to see whether digital clothing houses will continue to develop their underlying technologies, and use advanced methods to fit customers with the perfect outfit. 

As Natalia Modenova, founder of Dress-X, explains: “The technology is not there yet to recognize a body. The AI is not there to entirely automate the process.” It can take 3-5 hours to customize a piece of digital clothing to a body, which leaves the question: is digital clothing for humans scalable?

From a business point of view, the video game industry represents a strong market for digital clothing--but will luxury brands want to pivot and potentially change their brand perspective? It seems like right now, luxury brands are dipping their toes in the water, but aren’t fully jumping into digital clothing yet.

The fashion-gaming collaboration continues to grow:


Are fashion and gaming a match made in heaven? We’re seeing more brand collaborations (perhaps as a result of the pandemic) in gaming, with companies such as Net-a-Porter creating an island in Animal Crossing, and Gucci creating a garden experience in Roblox.

Net-a-Porter’s fantasy island

 



Keep an 👁️ out for:

  • Next-gen clothing and accessories for the metaverse: Digital clothing and NFTs go hand-in-hand. The exclusivity that digital clothing previously lacked is solved by NFT ownership, and design is led by digital clothing brands. RTFKT Studios recently received $8 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz to “merge realities between fashion and gaming.”

  • Merging realities: The physical and digital will continue to emerge, as brands are offering real-life rewards for digital clothing purchases. This could help solve the valuation problem of digital clothing, as digital assets would be tied to physical items.


As fashion tech continues to innovate, expect to see crossover between fashion tech trends, such as NFTs and digital clothing. While digital clothing and NFTs are forging a way towards the future, other categories of fashion tech are being applied to create new solutions to old problems. For example, retailers are using fashion tech to give customers new ways to search for clothing.

In our next article in the series, we'll explain the final piece of fashion tech trends: hyper-personalization.

 

 

by Jess Erdman Jess Erdman
Content Marketing Lead

I'm passionate about creating cool content. The best part? I get to learn new things about fashion tech and ecommerce everyday. Have an idea or opinion about this article? Reach out at jess@yesplz.ai

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