Valued at 1.5 billion in 2020, digital apparel is about to revolutionize the global fashion industry. What started just with 19 digital pieces has been growing at a pace much faster than expected. The pandemic has forced the traditional fashion industry to slow down, further encouraging the creation of digital garments and virtual models. Many experts predict that digital clothing is the future of the fashion industry.
Beginnings of Digital Apparel
The first virtual clothing collection was designed by Carlings, a Scandinavian retailer, in 2018. Quickly sold out, the 19 virtual clothing pieces were edited on the customer’s pictures by the designers. The brand later created the first AR graphic T-shirt. This trend soon caught fire and inspired many brands to produce digital clothing.
Today, brands like The Fabricant, Moschino, Tribute Brand, and Dress-X are pioneering digital apparel.
Drivers of Virtual Clothing
Technological developments and the rise of social media platforms have allowed trends to be readily available to everyone worldwide, breaking open the limitations consumers once had. These buyers now have access to every different fashion trend and all the latest collections. Fashion labels and companies cannot meet the growing demand while achieving green living, an immediate responsibility for businesses and consumers alike. Digital apparel can satisfy all three important customers – brands, consumers, and the Earth.
Social Media Self
As Generation Z is taking up more space in the consumer world, fashion trends seem to change quicker. These digital natives regard their online profile more than their physical appearance. Besides wanting to stand out from the rest, they also want to express their unique personality accurately. Virtual fashion fulfills both of these pressing needs of the increasing consumer domain.
For fashion brands, video games and e-sports are the way to connect with Generation Z consumers. While the nature of the traditional fashion industry and e-sports contradict each other, it is interesting how e-sports are now incorporating fashion into their gaming platforms. To engage the new tech-savvy customers, brands are choosing virtual clothing. Gamers, eager to express their online persona through digital apparel, have opened up a new realm of potential fashion customers.
Before the spread of COVID-19, the transition to a digital lifestyle was at a sluggish pace. The unexpected pandemic accelerated the transformation into a digital lifestyle, and buyers started to look for ways to keep up with their online persona. They are ready to spend and consume digital garbs, even if they will never be able to touch them in real life. Emerging online celebrities, also known as digital influencers, also inspire audiences to try out virtual fashion.
Personalization is one of the digital consumer experience trends in 2021. Prospective buyers look for products and services that reflect their own likes, values, and preferences. To conquer this new trend, fashion labels have to produce unique pieces for each of their buyers. This will again result in the accumulation of wastage and reduction of operational efficiency.
Virtual apparel is the only feasible solution to create tailor-made garbs for the target audience pool.
Advantages of Digital Apparel
Improved Shopping Experience
Digital clothes created by 3D rendering also improve customers’ shopping experience. When these garments are combined with virtual and augmented reality, a virtual try-on is created. Buyers can try the outfits before purchasing them and can also share their try-on pictures on social media. Due to the higher accuracy and fun element, consumers love them — becoming loyal to the brand that provides digital apparel.
As one of the industries with the most pollution, the fashion industry has to adapt green living to support sustainability. Through digital fashion weeks, garments, and 3D models, it can achieve its sustainability and business goals. Also, designing garments through 3D methods helps the reduction of waste production by approximately 75%.
Unlike traditional manufacturing, 3D designers can create virtual apparel almost limitlessly and beyond their imagination. Most of the work happens on computers and render farms, where 3D designers create anything and everything. Also, the virtual closet does not need extensive storage space, saving both storage and maintenance costs.
Digital garments are easy to modify according to the consumer’s changing preferences with the least amount of effort and time input. These are dubbed as universal garments that fit any body size, type, and gender. Unlike physical clothes, where recreation is difficult, virtual attires can be altered at any time. Additionally, digital clothing is economical in designing and creating.
Efficiency & Analysis
Virtual garbs come with the benefit of trading as NFTs. Supported by blockchain, brands can efficiently track digital apparel and the counterfeits circulating in cyberspace. Fashion brands can analyze the demand for a particular collection. They can, then, produce physical garments according to the demand and popularity; thereby, eliminating the excess manufacturing of less popular designs.
To the New Dawn: Digital Apparel Trend
Virtual clothes solve many of the crucial issues and needs faced by the traditional fashion industry. These support sustainability efforts, quench the fast-evolving consumers’ preferences while expanding creative limits. Technology has evolved to create digital apparel, but not enough to quickly apply them to the users’ pictures. Yet, this new dawn will take over the traditional fashion industry by storm sooner or later.