Open Digital Fashion Innovation
The next generation of the fashion industry is all about adapting and evolving in order to keep up with the exponential rate of technological adoption and innovation. Fashion is about to start merging with digital. It is moving towards a point of seamless integration with the virtual worlds of gaming, virtual reality and augmented reality etc.
I am working towards bringing the fashion industry to the digital economy, enabling designers to be able to create digital fashion for gaming, VR and other 3D technologies. I am revealing the roadmap for the future of digital fashion.
Elon Musk often asks, “are we living in a simulation?” By looking at today’s gaming and virtual reality industry, maybe he is onto something. There is a clear innovation curve in the advancement of gaming, VR, AR and each year these digital worlds are becoming more and more photorealistic. Eventually in the not too distant future, these worlds will ultimately become indistinguishable from the physical world that we know of today. We will start to interact with native digital economies, digital-only ecosystems and communities and when this happens billions, if not trillions, of dollars worth of new value will emerge. This might sound crazy, but we are already living hybrid digital-physical lives, just think about how we use social media to build our digital identities or upload our memories to the cloud.
Throughout history, humans have always paid attention to how they look. It is just a simple fact of our nature. And in the digital world this will be the same. People will want to express their unique identities. This might not seem obvious today, but in the future digital fashion will be absolutely huge and this industry will bring in enormous new value and opportunities. It is an entirely new economy.
I want to make sure that the fashion designers can be at the core of this new market and be enabled with the right digital and technological tools and the right distribution platform so that they can bring their creativity and skill set to these virtual economies.
Digital fashion is going to open up a whole new world for designers to be able to interact more closely with their customers. Instagram has already very much positioned itself as the next generation department store, but imagine taking this one step further with immersive reality and allowing consumers to enter a 3D virtual store filled with the latest collection of digital garments. And then imagine if the shopper could virtually try on the clothes, feel the texture of the materials and fabrics. With fashion in this digital form, virtual fittings will allow for a future with hyper personalised sizes that are unique and custom fit for each individual.
And what if in this virtual store the designer or brand could track the pure emotional data from the customers and gain valuable insights into how the shopper feels about the store, the fashion and the entire layout. The future will enable amazing digital retail and shopping experiences that are finely attuned in enabling shoppers to be able to fully interact with the messaging and feel of the brand. Why would you not want to imagine your swimsuit collection on a beach in Hawaii?
Digital-Only Limited Edition
New concepts such as digital-only limited edition will emerge. Digital-only exclusive luxury designs and collections that only exist in the digital world will be the thing in the near future. Rare designs, collections will be sold and auctioned digitally. Digital garments will have their own original and completely secured digital footprint, making it safer and more convenient in terms of storage and value preservation. These cryptographically trusted fashion collectibles can’t be copied and so will become rare unique pieces that are driven by scarcity and demand — they will be treated as arts, as a store of value. This industry is growing rapidly.
Open Digital Fashion
Imagine when a creative designer completes their digital design in 2D/ 3D and imagine if this could automatically adjust to look almost completely realistic in terms of the materials, fabric, the way the garment interacts with the environment, the character. Imagine when a creative designer can easily digitise a cool jacket for a game player and then the game player can take this and sell it off later.
‘Open source’ and creating an environment that brings designers together, allows them to collaborate, share patterns, material designs and textures and then build on demand 3D digital asset libraries is going to be a massive market segment.
These designers won’t be limited by physical principles and can build fashion that is ready couture, defies all logic and fully captures creative genius. A whole ecosystem will then emerge to connect these digital garments and allow for them to be traded amongst different market participants — digital clothing will have true monetary value that can be utilised by gamers or VR players who can purchase a new outfit on a digital asset exchange and have this outfit be fully interoperable and real time motion responsive to the virtual environment.
Brands and labels can also leverage the world of digital fashion, where they will be able to distribute entirely digital collections and fashion lines on a peer-2-peer marketplace or through the latest second life game, allowing a gamer to rock the newest Nike shoes. Digital merchandising opportunities will also be a huge channel. Think about in-game concerts (We already saw Fortnite do this with Travis Scott not too long ago) that can enable gamers to have access to a collection of exclusive concert merchandise that is only available for purchase during the show and creating new value around digital demand.
If we think about the current fashion supply chain, it is riddled with wasteful practices — not only when it comes to the actual manufacturing and dyeing of the materials, but also with the recent trend of ‘fast fashion’ putting enormous pressure on brands for reduced costs and accelerated production cycles. Think about new business models that are completely sustainable and are able to eliminate the complexity of the supply chain. Digital fashion can be created with ZERO waste and then be instantly shipped online within a matter of seconds to anyone in the world. Time to market is much more streamlined and allows for flexibility in reaction time i.e. being able to quickly distribute more designs of a certain product that becomes hugely successful overnight without requiring any coordination with clunky manufacturing processes.
The problems we see today.
There is no doubt that digital fashion is the future. This industry is going to be absolutely huge and bring in enormous new value and opportunities. It is an entirely new economy. But today, creating a motion-ready 3D digital fashion garment with different textures and interactivity with both an avatar and surrounding virtual environments like wind, liquids is extremely hard. You will need a small Hollywood visual effects team and weeks to months to produce just one garment and a realistic looking short motion clip.
It requires manual touchups, labour intensive work to achieve some level of quality and realism, both in terms of the materials and fabrics and also in terms of the way the outfit interacts with its environment. And still even then, a majority of the time this motion is completely restricted to a set of predefined rules that determine exactly how the garment or clothing should wrinkle, crease etc.
Big brand monopoly, designers are in silos.
On a bigger scale, the fashion industry is currently very ‘mafia’ driven — small innovative designers struggle finding distribution channels and exposure against the monopoly of the major labels. Designers, brands work almost completely siloed, they keep their cards very close to their chest, not willing to share or collaborate in the fear of losing to competition or market share. This is not just with competing brands, but sometimes even with other divisions within the same company. This lack of transparency and knowledge transfer slows down the innovation in the industry dramatically and puts creativity in an isolated black box.
Introducing Open Fashion Digital Innovation
To grow the creative economy and the future of creative development globally digital fashion and technologies that enable it are the perfect innovative platform for showcasing independent designers and positioning them as the future industry leaders.
While most fashion entities are only preparing for incremental change in the industry, I am building DIGITALAX as a core infrastructure to equip Designers and brands for digital disruption by taking new technologies like NFTs to give fashion designers the resources to be more efficient, more sustainable, and have access to the digital economy — a completely new customer base, new economic value, distribution channels and label exposure.
Imagine if designers could all collaborate on the first open source fashion platform and then under a digital fashion license they could start sharing digital designs, patterns, materials to create and design entire digital collections that are then distributed and exposed globally to gaming and VR players.