Digital mode: The online appearance of the inhabitants of the metaverse becomes a big problem. New generation fashion is taking a leap forward.
Written in collaboration with London C Edwards.
Forget what you traditionally believed to be fashion. There are now digital-only fashion houses ready to cater to the wants and desires of those who plan to live much of their lives on the Web3.
Enter ‘The manufacturer.’ It’s a digital fashion house, revolutionizing fashion as we know it. Not only is their idea of fashion cutting edge and bizarre futuristic, but like Web3, they break down traditional barriers. Now anyone can participate in the fashion industry. Want to be a fashion designer? Do it. You can create your own unique digital fashion clothes to wear, trade, and collect in the metaverse as NFTs.
It is not an industry-controlled company. This is decentralized fashion.
Michaela Larosse is head of content and strategy for the digital fashion house. She says it’s not unreasonable to question the idea of digital fashion. “It’s quite a difficult concept to understand. Fashion is the exploration of identity. It’s about self-expression. It doesn’t have to be physical. You still get emotions without physicality.
Virtual worlds and virtual clothing have been around for decades in video games. Players talk, roam freely, design, buy, and even earn clothes for their characters to wear.
These games have their own in-game economy and currency. There is a whole generation that is no stranger to owning digital clothes. They can also have weapons, jewelry, pets, and other accessories in their favorite virtual spaces. These “wearables” were all predecessors of the Metaverse. As for the Metaverse, who will dress those in it? The short answer is, you will.
Digital mode and avatars
The goal of digital fashion is to allow users to choose an aesthetic for their avatars. They can present it as a wearable or display it in augmented reality (AR). AR Clothing is already under development. Users can overlay AR clothing on themselves using their smartphone cameras. AR fitting rooms will also become reality.
In addition to AR clothing, digital clothing can already be integrated seamlessly superimposed on still photographs. They are so realistic that it can be difficult to tell a digital garment from a physical one. Users who want to buy digital clothes can submit their photos and the designer will overlay their masterpiece on the image.
Digital Culture and The Maker
The Manufacturer exists exclusively as a digital-only fashion house. The company creates clothing as well as purely non-physical fashion experiences. The company was founded in 2018 by CEO Kerry Murphy with creative director Amber Jae Slooten.
Kerry comes from cinema and digital effects. He knew that fashion had to digitize itself as an industry. All other creative industries, such as music, film and photography, all have well-established digital cultures. Kerry felt that fashion should also go there. There were a few years of research and development before the company was established.
Creative Director Amber studied at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. She loved the creative possibilities of fashion. But she didn’t want to participate in an industry that had so many toxic aspects, from sustainability to ethics to factory conditions.
Amber says, “I didn’t agree with the way things were done, so I told my teachers, ‘There’s another way to do this. Maybe I can graduate without any clothes. Is it possible to make a digital collection? They looked at me like I was crazy.
But she pushed on and became the first person in the world to graduate in fashion with a digital-only collection for her final assessment.
She says, “Why are fashion shows always so physical? There are maybe around 200 people at the physical events watching the models’ catwalks, and then the rest of the world watches the fashion shows online. In June 2018, we created a virtual fashion show. It was displayed in several locations across Europe, including Amsterdam and Paris in the same week. We didn’t need models and we didn’t need to ship a collection. It was enough to send a file. But the emotional reaction was the same. People didn’t even know it was fake so they asked me where can I buy this? And I said, “You can download everything for free from our website.”
Amber says the fashion industry needs to think differently about its habits. “We want to create a future where people can wear our clothes digitally. People can express themselves endlessly. This change doesn’t happen overnight, and we also understand that for brands it’s still very difficult to grasp the idea of not having physical products. So we help them a little along the way. By using blockchain technology, we are able to create a unique item in a digital space.
The company has maintained a presence at the forefront of the digital fashion industry. Today, they are a senior player, rapidly evolving from their inception, at a time when digital fashion did not exist. They have collaborated with real world fashion brands including Puma, Trs.Mnz, Buffalo London, Atari, Star Atlas, Iridescence, Soorty Denim and many more.
Larosse says it hasn’t been easy. “Obviously, being there from day one, nobody took us seriously. Everyone just said, ‘That’s not a thing. How could that be a thing? How can fashion not not exist? It cannot exist, because you must carry clothes.’ Yes, but you can do it digitally.
Thanks to brand collaborations, people are getting more and more used to the idea of digital fashion. “It made the idea of living digitally as part of your daily experience very familiar to people. And the idea of being able to use digital fashion wherever there is screen interaction.
You, the digital fashion designer
Selling digital fashion apparel isn’t The Manufacturer’s sole focus. It is also about tearing down the traditional barriers of the industry. Such barriers have shut out ordinary people who aspire to participate in an almost entirely exclusive industry.
The Maker Studio allows users to create fashion NFTs. Larosse now says anyone can be a digital designer. “Users can build a brand, sell their products, create their own aesthetic, and become a relevant part of a new fashion economy. This is the goal of everything we do with The Fabricator studio. In the launch season, we had Manufacturer clothing, Marques Almeida pieces, Dickies pieces, and then three pieces from individual 3D clothing designers. Metaverse natives and physical marks have entered space.
The manufacturer offers users the option to select a blank clothing model. They can then choose from a wide selection of digital fabrics, many of which are impossible in the physical world.
“Users come in and select the garment, select the fabric, and then they can combine them to create their own unique digital fashion NFT that they could then wear, trade, and collect in the metaverse. As an end-of-season wrap-up, we created a digital fashion show in Unreal Engine.
“And for us, there’s no point in digitally recreating what a physical fashion show looks like. We don’t need avatars, we just walk up and down the catwalk. We can do whatever we want. Our fashion show was a giant digital sea and each garment was contained in a bubble. You can go inside the bubble, interact with the garment in real time and focus on the details. It was really beautiful. For us, it is the exciting possibility of a digital fashion show.
Everyone involved in the creation of a digital fashion piece sold on the secondary market as an NFT receives a royalty. From the person who dropped the garment, to the person who created the fabric, and even to the person who hit it all. They receive an equal share of royalties. It’s a new way of thinking about fashion.
“We have the technology to be able to change the whole idea of what fashion is. It’s a really radical position to have, but we’re doing it.
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