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The fashion industry has seen some major shifts this past year due to the pandemic, and some things like the cancellation of New York Fashion Week left us questioning if this was the end of our fashion industry as we know it.
While some are still mourning its death, others have taken this opportunity to rewrite the narrative. Many luxury fashion houses have taken big steps in this shift such as Gucci announcing that they are going seasonless and Versace going digital at Milan fashion week.
This shift also allowed for the very first Crypto Fashion Week to be held this past February and it's unlike anything the fashion industry has seen before.
The execution of Crypto Fashion Week
Image via @stephyfung instagram
The first official Crypto Fashion Week was presented in a collaboration between Universe Contemporary and Expoblvd. The event featured workshops and exhibitions and was a space for digital and fashion enthusiasts to collaborate.
Through the technology of cryptocurrency, they ensured that the designers were compensated for their time and work. Additionally, they utilized blockchain technology which makes it difficult for hackers to steal or change the system.
They addressed the issue of fast fashion companies stealing designs from small and BIPOC designers, and the use of the digital space can limit this from happening.
A shift in how we do fashion
During the last year or so, many of us have spent most of our time at home. Working or doing school from home. Often only having to dress from the waist up (if you know you know).
Yet, fashion never stopped. Cottage core was trending last summer, and right now halter tops are in. Although we lost the need to go out and wear fashion, we did not stop practicing it.
Creators of digital fashion claim that this is a response and a solution to the overconsumption of physical fashion
“if you think about the ways that digital fashion can phase out production costs, save manufacturing costs, save landfill costs, and then if I’m wearing it just to show off on social to my friends or to show up in a video game, then it may as well be something digital because these environments are digital environments”
says Lady Phe0nix one of the co-founders of Universe Contemporary and organizers of Crypto Fashion Week.
Where does sustainability fit in?
We are all familiar with the excessive wastefulness of the fashion industry. People are purchasing on average 60% more garments now than they were 20 years ago, and 85% of all textiles are going to the landfill each year.
We desperately need a solution to fashion waste and digital fashion may just be the answer. Jules Dagonet who is the head of the school of fashion at the University of Creative Arts explains how digital fashion is divided into three streams:
Gif via Dezeen
Sometimes it can be difficult to disassociate materiality from fashion. How could a physical person wear digital clothing? Digital fashion house The Fabricant showcases the possibilities, one being their collaboration with footwear brand Buffalo London where they co-created and released 100 limited edition pairs of their digital fire shoes.
Consumers are purchasing the right to the digital shoe
“The edited image can be shared across social channels, allowing fashion lovers to show their style without a physical item being worn or physical interactions taking place”.
While a physical pair of Buffalo London’s will cost you more than 200 USD, the digital shoes were only priced at 30 USD, this displays how digital fashion can also break down barriers of accessibility.
Online shopping has been steadily increasing over the past few years accounting for 21.8% of all retail sales. With the convenience of one-day shipping and Apple pay, online shopping has never been easier and it is expected to continue to grow.
E-commerce has played a large role in the realm of reselling clothing with sites such as ThredUp and Poshmark. The need for more sustainability in the fashion industry has allowed for the reCommerce market to thrive and it is forecasted to have an annual growth rate of 39%.
The digitalization of Production
Image via Dezeen
The most wasteful part of the fashion industry comes from the production side of the garments. One brand that has decided to tackle this issue head on is Tommy Hilfiger who are shifting their entire design process to a digital form.
Sketching, sampling, and showrooms will all be done digitally in 3D design. The products will not become physical until they are either on the runway or purchased.
This motivation comes from the want to decrease waste, save money, and increase speed of production to market. Although they are starting small, they hope to incorporate more digital streams into their business model over time with innovations such as augmented reality shop windows.
The future of fashion and crypto
The organizers of the first Crypto Fashion Week have high hopes for its future and what it could do for our fashion industry. Digital fashion creates a space where all are welcome to collaborate and participate, making space for those who may be marginalized.
The hope is that technology will be more accessible and younger generations will be encouraged to understand fashion in a digital context on top of the physical.
More fashion but less waste? Although digital fashion is still a new phenomenon, it is opening doors that were previously blocked by the need for materiality. Events like Crypto Fashion week showcase the extraordinary world of digital fashion and we encourage everyone to try it out!
(Featured Image via Voguebusiness)
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