June 24, 2022
text FIDELIO FAUSTINO & MELISSA NNAEKWE
photography DRESS X
The New Normal
On the 5th of March 2020, the WHO (World Health Organisation) declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. Not only were we not able to enjoy each other's physical presence, but we have also been forced to spend about 24 hours on Zoom, working, socialising and finding our moments of joy. Covid has shifted our attitude on interaction and given us new insights on how interlinked our connections are online. For most people the idea of going back to talking to our computer screen is terrifying. But for some, it has triggered new ways of creating.
The lockdown made us reflect and anticipate our daily routines and social gatherings. Isolation made sure that our digital devices and the online universe became the centre point of our daily existence. It made us inevitable to ignore our phones for a moment. But the most striking part is how it changed our perspective on, for example, fashion. Maybe you did not notice it yourself, but our behaviour changed. The significance of how we look in digital presence changed. But where are we now?
The Growing Romance Between Fashion and Meta
Not only consumers have been affected by “the new normal.” The corporate world needed to create a new mindset for their business to catch your attention on the internet to survive, more than before. As Business of Fashion editor Marc Bain states in the article Fashion’s Metaverse Dilemma: Dip a Toe or Wait and See? “If brands are going to experiment, now is arguably the time to test and learn, but nobody wants to look bad, least of all carefully cultivated fashion brands.”
In 2021, a moving moment in the fashion industry started, with the drop of the bizarre and stellar Fall 21 ‘Afterworld, The Age of Tomorrow’ video game presentation by Balenciaga. They have created, as pioneers, a new utopia to explore within digital reality and the metaverse that makes the industry feel rather optimistic. With this ambitious project under the leadership of creative director Demna Gvasalia, it seems increasingly likely that virtual worlds will become an important channel for connecting with the next generation of customers and other fashion brands will be eager to experiment further.
Selling a Digital Fantasy
The metaverse is very difficult to define. It is mostly described as online spaces where people socialise, work, and play with avatars. Digital representations of their identities, creating a new digital reality. Zooming in on the fashion industry, it is not hard to understand fashion designers' attraction to this phenomenon happening mostly in the gaming industry and social media business. Selling a fantasy based on self-expression is a very similar consumer theme in these industries. But most importantly, it is one of the reasons why fashion connects with people around the world. As Brian Jung said in the Ted Talk Rockville, “Human connections are necessary for people to thrive. We need interaction. This is how we continued to evolve in the past few years.”
Can you imagine your digital wardrobe flourishing and your physical wardrobe shrinking? As the fashion industry taps into this new segment, the shape and form of our fashion weeks adapted into a new body in 2022. Celebrating the new phenomenon of Decentraland Fashion Week, more than 60 fashion brands are hosting fashion shows, panel talks and runway line-ups, to sell the new NFT clothes that match your NFT wardrobe.
Do you want to meet the members of the Generation Metaheads? Read below.
Would you buy headwear that you can’t touch? A new generation of fashion pioneers and digital creatives are opening the gate of the metaverse to explore what this ‘new world’ could bring to the table. Fashion brands are eager to test and learn the concept of expression in the virtual world. But how does it affect the consumers?
Chicago-based metaverse model Bailey Davis starts to prepare for her flight to Italy, to model for one of the first digital fashion web shops called ‘Dressx.com’. Bailey is getting more and more involved in the digital world and is currently saving up for her first digital headpiece.
Digital Silk Scarf
"Last summer I received a message from a digital scarf brand from Italy. I started a conversation with the girl who approached me and she asked me if I wanted to do a shoot for DRESSX in collaboration with Foulara. I have always been interested in fashion, but digital fashion was a whole new world to me. I saw this as a great opportunity to educate myself further in the field of digital fashion. It is very interesting because it opens new doors artistically. I think that there is more possible in the digital world than in the physical world. Financially it also offers opportunities for beginning 3D artists.”
“Foulara is a scarf brand from Florence founded by Larissa Castellano Pucci, the girl who had reached out to me for the shoot. She introduced me to the digital world, Web3, which is the next version of the internet that will focus on decentralisation and user ownership with ‘Stack World’, a platform that empowers women in business. The collection we were going to shoot was about the wonders of the sea, from waves to the beauty of a shell, to the movement of a jellyfish. But I had not seen the garments before the shoot which made it quite awkward because I did not know what garment I would be wearing. In the end, the photos turned out very nice and it was impressive to see myself back with those digital garments on my body.” says Bailey.
Jonathan Acosta is a Miami-based video content creator and social media influencer. Nowadays they are getting more and more involved with the metaverse and digital fashion. They are passionate about extravagant make-up and fashion and love to experiment with digital clothing and headpieces.
Five Dollar Extravagance
“I was introduced to digital fashion by Vogue. I saw a model fully dressed in virtual clothes which I had never seen before. It was very impressive, so I immediately started to investigate digital fashion and ended up at DRESSX. The first thing I bought at DRESSX was a headwear piece, it was a basic bucket hat with the DRESSX brand logo on it. It was very cheap. I think I paid five dollars. It felt intriguing and I was super excited to see the reaction of my followers. The bucket hat was something that I would wear in physical life as well, so it was a good item to start with and experiment on how to apply it. I find it an authentic process, and it helps me showcase my identity better. Currently, I buy everything on dressx.com. It is a nice site with a lot to offer, they work with many different upcoming designers.”
“Dress X developed an app as well where you can try on the clothes and have access to your wardrobe. I’m really into it because virtual fashion allows me to express myself in a way that physical clothing can not give me. I love extravagant and unique clothes that showcase me as a person. Because of this, I often end up at high-end fashion brands where the garments are often very expensive, or the sizes are limited. With digital clothing it does not matter what size your body is, it will always fit. On the other hand, I do think this is the same as with physical clothes, after a while, you just want something new. And sometimes you just want to feel and experience the actual garment on your body.”
Hard To Keep Up
“I am bald, so I like to be able to cover my head from time to time, and I think headwear could elevate your whole look. I wear it on Instagram but also in the metaverse, for example in Decentraland. I usually log in weekly and spend one or two hours on the digital platform. But it depends also on the activities that are being organised, for example, the metaverse fashion week. I am super excited about this. Therefore, I might spend more time on Decentraland, to connect with other people and of course, show off my digital clothes. But the development of the future of digital fashion is hard to keep up with. Maybe people should not buy digital garments yet, because I think the digital fashion industry is still really in the development stage. But within two years it might be more accessible to the mainstream. As I said we are still in the beginning phase, the metaverse has very little impact on the physical world right now. I do think that digital designers are pushing limits in physical fashion and believe there is going to be a certain point where both worlds need to be connected, to be a success.”