GRAPHIC DESIGNER Zoe Statiris
It’s funny how things work out. In the fall of 2020, I started looking into digital fashion after stumbling across a Forbes article from a few months before. The headline grabbed me with the opening, How Digital Fashion Could Replace Fast Fashion. I’d heard of digital fashion before, and you have too if you’ve heard of the customizable outfits you can change virtual characters into. Your Animal Crossing character’s clothes? Digital fashion. Changed your Bitmoji’s clothes before? Digital fashion. Or perhaps you remember the Louis Vuitton digital capsule for the 2019 League of Legends World Championships.
Digital fashion is nothing new, but I’d never considered it a replacement for non-digital fashion. A line in the article particularly stood out to me, the hypothesis behind digital retail fashion company More Dash’s test pop-up shops. “There is a significant demand for fashion ‘consumption’ for the sole purpose of content creation, meaning that purchasing and physical ownership for these ‘consumers’ is at least partially redundant.”
I remember thinking that redundant was the right word, my mind recalling an iconic line that always seems to come up when I think about wasteful consumption of fashion: “Lizzie McGuire you are an outfit repeater.”
This is the attitude that has come from our increased connectedness. A philosophy that fast fashion brands have pushed on us through their messaging—that clothing is to be worn once or twice, seen on social media, and then stuffed into the back of overflowing drawers. It comes as no surprise that our consumption of fast fashion has increased with social media use.
We are aware we’re living in an increasingly digital world, and quite frankly, we own too much shit for this world.
Fast forward to December, the end of the semester. I had an assignment that involved an informative presentation about something to do with fashion; the topic was left very open. I decided to put the research I’d been doing to use for the assignment and give myself a good reason to keep looking into digital fashion. The idea of replacing fast fashion, at least partially, began to seem like a real possibility. We are aware we’re living in an increasingly digital world, and quite frankly, we own too much shit for this world. We are also aware that fashion production and consumption have increased, not decreased, with our collective shift online.
When I finished the assignment, I thought about the next steps for this project. I considered writing an informative article about digital fashion, but I needed something more—an angle for my writing that would allow me to approach digital fashion in a way that was different from all the articles I’d read before. I wanted first-hand experience, to understand precisely how digital fashion worked.
Then I got a message on Instagram: I’m part of Fashion Takes Action’s Youth Ambassador program, and they were collaborating with digital fashion brand XR Couture for a piece on the Fashion Takes Action blog. They asked if I would be interested in trying out digital fashion and sharing a bit about my experience for the blog. I mentally thanked the universe for this very timely opportunity and said I would love to be part of the project.
The process was incredibly simple. All I needed to do was take a photo to send to XR Couture, pick some pieces I wanted to try on, and they would dress me (as in the digital me in the photo) up in digital clothes! I was provided with tips and best practices for taking photos for digital fashion, such as having good lighting, wearing fitted/minimal clothing (more options for digital pieces I could try), and taking the photo in high resolution.
I think that’s one of the most exciting things about digital fashion; not only does it produce no waste and is size-inclusive, but it also has so much creative potential!
So, with these things in mind, I dragged my roommate out for a walk to take a few photos! When I completed that step, I went to XR Couture’s website and explored my options. I knew I was looking for pants, and one pair, in particular, caught my eye, so I messaged the team and asked for them. Sure enough, a few days later, the new version of my photo, with me in the pants, was sitting in my inbox! it was that easy, and the pants are unlike any that I’ve owned non-digitally!
I think that’s one of the most exciting things about digital fashion; not only does it produce no waste and is size-inclusive, but it also has so much creative potential! Designers are only limited by their imagination, not by materials or other physical restrictions.
Will digital fashion change everything? No. Digital fashion will not replace the entire fashion industry as it exists today, but it could play an important role in slowing down consumption, which is a necessary step towards slowing down production. It has the potential to be a great tool in helping to change the industry, and what could be more exciting than that.