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  • Writer's pictureDonavan R

The Need For Fashion to Prepare for a FULLY VIRTUAL FUTURE

Te last year has seen some of the most basic tenets of the fashion industry upended. Brands don’t need stores to attract customers. Social media advertising doesn’t need to be polished to be effective. But now, there’s an even bigger disruption on the way: Clothes don’t need to physically exist to sell.

Virtual fashion has been hovering on the margins of the industry for years now, but like many things, the pandemic helped speed its movement into the mainstream. In the last year alone, big influencers have made virtual fashion a more widely known concept and big brands have started experimenting with it in a more visible way. While still marginal to the overall industry, fashion insiders from a variety of brands believe it’s only a matter of time before virtual clothes turn into a very real trend.

METAPIGEONS by Jeff Staple

“We’ll see a world where you don’t even have to own the physical shoes. You can just own a virtual version of them and post on social media with those augmented reality shoes on your feet and get the same social credibility.” Says Jeff Staple, sneaker designer extraordinaire and founder of Staple Pigeon.

The exact concept that Staple referred to has already been enacted by Tribute, a company launched in 2020 that bills itself as a contactless fashion brand. It produces limited runs of digital fashion pieces, usually selling only around 100 copies of each and pricing them at $29-$699. Once purchased, the 3D artists at Tribute will virtually “fit” the piece onto the consumer’s photo of choice, which can then be posted on social media for all the same social credibility that one would get from buying a real piece.

Recently, virtual fashion has become more robust. Along with six other designers, Hillary Taymour, founder and designer of Collina Strada, created clothes for avatars in the virtual social space IMVU, which will be for sale on May 28. Taymour and her team created a variety of virtual pieces, including some that were original and some that were based on existing physical pieces. The pieces were modeled in 3D by IMVU users picked by Lindsay Anne Aamodt, director of marketing for IMVU. IMVU allows users to create and sell their own pieces, and the creators picked for this process were those who already had significant success selling their own virtual products on the platform.

Collina Strada’s designs are going live on IMVU at the end of May, timed with an in-world fashion show showcasing the virtual designs of Collina Strada and other designers, including Mowalola and Mimi Wade.

Soon, virtual fashion won’t even be limited to edgy brands like Collina Strada. More mainstream brands are also toying with virtual fashion. Brie Olson, chief brand officer at PacSun, said she couldn’t announce anything specific, but teased that her brand is working on something that will see them enter the virtual fashion space.

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