A few weeks back Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg awkwardly announced that the company would be focusing more on the future, less on fake news and looking the other way when powerful world villains sway elections.
What he claims is that there’s a Metaverse coming, a digital Oasis of sorts where people will hang out and experience a completely new reality. Be who you wanna be. Say what you wanna say. Kinda like that.
The world dug what he was throwing down. We can leave this terrible mess we’ve made and start over? Perfect. One important question remains about this digital Utopia though … What am I gonna wear!?
The answer is found within fashion tech outlets that are beginning to thrive in the new electronic space. Dress X and The Fabricant, for example, are two dedicated sites that solely design digital clothes (for a fee) and allow people to “wear them” via social media posts or on video game avatars. Not just t-shirts and jeans either. Some outfits are the crazy, over-the-top SciFi type stuff we’ve all been waiting for.
No kidding. It’s becoming quite the commodity.
It’s not so much a new concept when you think about it. For years people have been spending billions on digital gear. In fact, games like Fortnite and Roblox are stockpiling incredible amounts of cash on it and what they’ve found is that offering a game for free isn’t such a bad idea when the desire for gamers to customize themselves is where the profit is. Snapchat too has sorta been in the game. Imagine all the puppy ears and silly tongues you’ve seen on friends’ accounts through the years. Now imagine if it had charged a buck or two per filter for its 300 million+ users. Cha-Ching!
Brands like Nike, Gucci, Vans and Adidas have already secured their place in the digital world as well, all currently offering exclusive collaborations with video games, influencers and social media filters en masse. Tech and fashion are forever together it seems. Tommy Hilfiger even had the bright idea of installing Bluetooth chips into its denim to track where you are, how long you’ve been wearing its brand and who you’re with. The jury is still out on that though.
It sounds like digital fashion really just might be a new frontier in the evolution of humanity. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What gives this newfound idea actual value is a fairly new concept dubbed NFTs — or Non-Fungible Tokens. Think of it like a physical piece of art. You can buy a poster of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at a flea market all day. Is it worth anything? No. Try to go steal the real one though and you’re behind bars for the next several birthdays.
NFTs are essentially tracked from its inception onward through a series of complicated computer things. So, when buying a digital dress or avatar sneakers, you literally own the file, the image, and the rights for anyone to use them if they want to. When Nike decides to drop exclusive kicks and you cop the NFT, you’ll be the sole owner of that pair … just … digitally.
The market is there already. According to Business of Fashion’s newly released data titled “The Opportunity in Digital Fashion and Avatars Report,” some 70 percent of general U.S. consumers between the ages of 20 and 60 say their digital identity is important. To boot, half of those polled say they’re interested in buying a digital asset within the next 12 months — and the percentage climbs even higher among wealthier individuals.
In 2019, The Fabricant made headlines with the sale of a rather expensive digital dress. Named “Iridescence,” the dress exists solely on the Internet and was purchased for $9,500. Some rich dude bought it for his wife’s social media and called it a viable investment when asked why.
This all takes a pretty active imagination to see where digital fashion could possibly go. Think of the Internet as it is now; it had to start somewhere. When speaking to his assistant in 1876 on the first phone call ever made, Alexander Graham Bell probably had no clue his invention would one day be used to send photos of dinner plates to strangers on the other side of the world. But here we are.
If Zuckerberg’s Metaverse does actually catch hold and digital personas are used as an everyday function rather than a novelty, things like digital assets will become just as important as the things inside your home, maybe more — with as much focus on identity and stature as physical ones are today. Working from home? Office attire. Going out to virtual music festivals? Festie gear. It might not be such a stretch to think a person’s entire life cycle can exist behind a pair of AR Smart Glasses with built-in digital intelligence feeding a meta-reality.
Some real Matrix type shit going down right now. Awesome. Maybe.
cover photo via TheFabricant.com