For many, how we present ourselves to others on social media has become just as significant as how we express ourselves daily. With fashion constantly evolving and increasing pressure to reduce overproduction, digital clothing is rising.
With virtual garments becoming increasingly popular within the fashion industry, certain companies are leading the way by transitioning from physical textiles to digital. Carlings, a Scandinavian retailer, was the first-ever company to create a digital clothing-only collection in 2018, which sparked interest across the industry. Customers who wish to buy from a digital fashion website must upload a photo of themselves, purchase a 3D outfit, which is then digitally tailored and sent back to you by email. The great thing about this form of fashion is how inclusive it is. No matter your body type, gender or disability, there are no boundaries.
DressX creates ostentatious pieces aimed at influencers with a mission to eliminate waste caused during garment production and transportation. Their website runs through the difference in the environmental impact between producing a digital garment and a physical garment, for example, zero waste textiles and no use of chemicals due to the removal of traditional garment production.
It is no surprise that the fashion industry contributes significantly to environmental problems globally. A study released in 2020 by the European Parliament estimated that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions – more than international flights and maritime shipping combined. DressX states that the carbon footprint of making one digital garment is 95% less than that of a physical item of clothing. A virtual garment reduces the harm caused by the clothing production process by eliminating textile waste and reducing packaging and transportation environmental consequences. The pressure for the fashion industry to change bad habits contributes greatly to the rise of virtual clothing and how people showcase themselves on social media.
Image courtesy of Maya Oreshkina: Pillow tells a story” digital collection for Dress X
A group of influencers highlight the benefits of virtual clothing through an online interview with I-D. Enam, a plus-size model, believes that virtual garments are a positive development, stating, “Anything that discusses inclusivity of plus bodies will be something that’s going to be internet-breaking”, hopefully pushing a much-needed conversation around size, shape and variety. Model Jasmine discusses how damaging disposable clothes can be to those paid to promote them on social media. “I do think digital fashion could be an answer to how fast fashion impacts the environment”. By influencers utilising virtual clothes and promoting this on social media, it could be a matter of time to begin to see consumers buying and wearing their digital wardrobe.
Daria Shapovalova, the co-founder of DressX, predicts this in an interview with Dell. She states that from three to five years from now, everyone who has a keen interest in fashion and buys regularly will also have a digital wardrobe. “It will only continue to grow faster”. She says. “I remember the fashion industry without any social media, and now digital fashion is intertwining with social media”. Over 3.6 billion people were using social media globally in 2020, and this number is increasing. Fashion is constantly evolving, and although current technology isn’t quite at a level where more brands can apply it to their business, it won’t take long for the software to develop. Digital fashion can change the way we present ourselves online. If influencers have the power to promote so many brands, then showing themselves in digital clothes will be new and exciting to consumers. There are also new endless creative possibilities with digital fashion. Technology can allow individuals to express themselves in ways we cannot achieve in the real world or want to share through the digital version of themselves. To me, the prospect of this is exhilarating.
Virtual clothing has the power to reinvent how we currently present ourselves on social media. We may never feel the need to dress up for a selfie again if it was as simple as flicking through our digital wardrobe. But how far can digital fashion go? The next concern would be that we wouldn’t want to be seen twice in the same digital dress. For the time being, anything that pushes boundaries creatively reduces a wasteful culture, and a better solution to fast fashion has my vote.