Why are people so fascinated with "Virtual Clothes" and is it here to stay?
What is a digital dress?
Digital clothing is sold online as a virtual item that is edited onto the customer instead of them actually wearing it. On a small scale, this can be in the form of a paid Snapchat filter. On a larger scale, the piece of clothing can be sold as an NFT that one person uniquely owns.
Why would anyone want this?
There are a few selling points to digital fashion that differentiate it from buying clothes you can wear. Due to the rise of fast fashion, people need new clothes without the hassle of storing and purchasing them. It’s reported that one in three women consider a piece of clothing “old” after just one or two wears. Additionally, a sixth of young people claim they won’t wear an outfit if it’s already been posted to their social media.
Fast fashion is not the only selling point, though. Digital clothing is more environmentally friendly as it doesn’t require physical resources to produce and distribute it. This is particularly important as almost ten percent of greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the fashion industry, and more than half of clothing ends up in landfill sites.
Another factor contributing to the rising trend of digital fashion is that physics doesn’t constrain such clothing. Companies are instead given the freedom to try out radically new designs that wouldn’t be possible to produce in real life.
Will we virtually dress up in the future?
The digital clothing industry was accelerated due to the pandemic, but its presence in the future of society is inevitable.
Tech companies including Apple, Facebook, Google and Snapchat are all developing augmented reality [AR] experiences. AR works as an overlay between the real world and the digital world, allowing a seamless blend between both. This includes games such as Pokemon GO, as well as Snapchat filters that add objects to your room through your phone’s camera.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, has repeatedly expressed his excitement for AR. It’s reported that the company plans to release AR glasses in the next few years.
Combining AR with digital fashion could mean we would live in a world where what people wear in real life is different to what we see through AR glasses. An ordinary shirt could, for example, be transformed into an animated one that we only really experience through AR.
This may sound like science fiction, but it’s likely not too distant in the future. When AR filters were first introduced to Snapchat, they were really inaccurate, but now they’ve come a long way. We can now use filters that change the shapes of our faces, the colour of our hair, and more while still maintaining a realistic appearance.
We may not know it, but we’re all playing our role in advancing the field of digital fashion. When the technology is finally ready, we may just find that we are too.
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