Sunday , September 20 2020

A £ 7,500 dress that doesn't exist


Mary Ren in Digital DressImage copyright
Yogo Kimura

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Mary Rehn in the digital dress her husband bought

Earlier this year, Richard Ma, chief executive of a San Francisco-based Quantstamp security company, spent $ 9,500 (£ 7,500) on a dress for his wife.

That's a lot of money for a dress, especially when it doesn't exist, at least not in physical form.

Instead, it was a digital dress, designed by The Fabricant fashion house, pictured with Richard's wife Mary Rehn, which can then be used on social media.

"It's definitely very expensive, but it's also an investment," says Mr Ma.

He explains that he and his wife usually do not buy expensive clothes, but he likes the piece because he thinks it has a long-term value.

"In 10 years, everyone will be 'dressed' in digital fashion. It is a unique memorial. It is a sign of the times.

Ms Rehn shared the picture on her Facebook page and via WeChat, but decided not to post it on more public platforms.

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The Carolins 'sold' their digital collections of street clothes

Digital Collection

Another fashion house designing for the digital space is Carling. The Scandinavian company released a digital collection of street clothes, starting at around £ 9 ($ 11), last October.

"Sell" within a month.

"It sounds kind of stupid to say we're sold," which is theoretically impossible when you work with a digital collection because you can create as many as you want, "explains Ronny Mikassen, director of the Carling brand.

"We set a limit on the amount of products we went to produce to make it even more special.

Being digital only allows designers to create elements that can push the boundaries of extravagance or possibilities.

"You wouldn't buy a white T-shirt digitally, would you? Because it makes no sense to show it. So it must be something you really want to show, or something you wouldn't dare to buy physically, or you couldn't afford to buy physically. "

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Rockstorms can only gamble with digital collection

Carling's digital collection was produced as part of a marketing campaign for their real, physical products. But the firm believes the concept has potential – a second line of digital laundry is planned for the end of 2019.

Fabricant publishes new, free digital clothing on its website every month, but consumers need the skills and software to combine objects with their own images.

This also means that the company must find another way to make money until digital fashion becomes more popular.

More technology to business

"We make our money by servicing fashion brands and retailers with their marketing needs, selling tools and creating content that uses that aesthetic language in digital fashion," says Fabrikant founder Kerry Murphy.

It is not entirely clear who is buying digital clothes from Carlisle or downloading clothing from the Factory.

Mr Michaelsen says that Carlings sold between 200-250 digital pieces, but searching to find them on Instagram resulted in only four people having bought the collection themselves and had no involvement in the company.

However, some of those clothes may have been shared only privately.

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The fabric

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Some people want the perfect outfit for a particular location

Amber aea Sloten, co-founder and designer of Fabricator, admits that they are mainly industry professionals who use CLO 3D software to download clothing.

"But people are also very curious to see what the files look like. People like to own the item, especially since that dress sells for $ 9,500. "

Marshall Cohen, chief market analyst for retail market research firm NPD Group, calls the emergence of digital fashion an "incredible phenomenon" but has yet to be convinced of its long-term impact.

"Do I believe it will be something huge and will remain forever? No. "

He says technology works for people who want a perfect image. "If you don't like what you wear but want it where you are, now you have the opportunity to transition your wardrobe and digitally enhance your photography to make it look the latest and greatest."

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Epic Games

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Digital fashion collections are inspired by games like Fortnite

Computer game players have long been willing to spend money on clothes or skins for their game characters. That partly inspired The Fabricant to work in the digital space.

"The only reason we made the collection the way we did – inspired by Fortnite – was because of the whole connection between buying leather and buying digital clothing," says Mikassen.

"When it comes to technology and the way people live their lives, we need to be aware that the world is changing."

Designers working on game skins face additional challenges – they must make sure it fits the story and the character.

Once you have designed the outfit, which can be a try or a 70, the hardest part begins according to game cosmetics consultant Janel Jimenez.

The skin needs to work in the game – a medium that, unlike digital fashion, often involves movements such as walking, fighting or dancing.

"For a game like League of Legends, you have to do 3D, it has sound effects, it has animations, all of these things have to be brought together to make the character feel like they are expressing a different fantasy about themselves.

"It's less like changing clothes and more like watching an actor play a different role."

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Digital fashion shoppers don't have to worry about returning something if it doesn't fit

The impact of the games and changes in customer tastes give some in the fashion industry confidence that digital clothing, to a certain extent, will have a long-term impact.

"Digital fashion will become an important part of any future business model of any fashion business," says Matthew Drinkwater, head of the London Fashion College's Agency for Fashion Innovation.

"It won't replace everything, but it will be an important part of it."

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