Is fashion ready for the metaverse?

As pixels become the new standard measurement ruler, designers wonder if their fashion degree will fit in the metaverse.

Part of the beauty of traditional fashion is the ability to carry a story, using physical materials as a tool for self-expression. But now that the digital space is transforming the world around us, it’s time for fashion to be reinvented as well.

Virtual reality

The metaverse, in its simplest form, is the universe in which society converges within a digital world. In traditional Web 2.0, the internet is primarily a place for social over-sharing and online shopping, while its Web 3.0 upgrade is designed to mimic human interactions and create “real” digital experiences based on it. It is, literally, virtual reality.

Throughout history there have been design changes that were not only fueled by money, but rather sparked off by culture-changing events like the Industrial Revolution, the Two World Wars and the Covid-19 pandemic. Today we are seeing that shift with companies like Nike, Adidas and Balenciaga already making digital versions of their products for the metaverse – from sneakers to clothing to accessories – an effort that was of course initiated by big tech companies. like Meta, formerly known as Facebook.

Industry traditional values will eventually Stop her own progress unless it adapts to modern world.

According to Enara Nazarova, founder of ARMOAR and the Digital Fashion & Art Club, the traditional values ​​of the industry will eventually stop its own progress unless it adapts to the modern world. “Most of the students who attend fashion schools today don’t get an introduction to technical programs,” Nazarova said. “It’s time for software to be recognized as an important complementary skill set to physical craftsmanship that will allow students to be more creative in their work and competitive in an increasingly digital world. “

Sean Chiles, co-founder of The Digital Fashion Group, adds that “the zeitgeist is always the starting point of a designer – the place where he ‘feels’ and from which he creates and develops. Finding ways to really embrace this in the digital world as a foundation for creative development is essential. “

The classroom

Collection of mystical seashellsIdiat Shiole

Digital fashion itself survives in three chapters: phygital, physical and digital, and fully digital – the last two existing in the metaverse. Phygital applies to digital fashion which ultimately produces physical pieces, while physical and digital refer to pieces that can be worn using augmented or virtual reality. The all-digital component is the virtual clothes that are sold directly to an avatar, stored in a “meta-closet”.

Elizabeth Bowring, runway director, fashion forecaster and professor at the Digital Fashion Design Academy, argues that creativity is the common denominator of fashion innovation. “Creativity comes in all its forms. It exists in digital form, in the metaverse, and in traditional and artisanal aspects, ”she said.

The devil works hard, but the fashion industry works harder, historically adapting quickly to trends such as digitization, sustainability and transparency that change the rules overnight. Brands taking action – and sometimes failing – to use sustainable practices and a streetwear designer being the first to sell a digital sneaker wasn’t possible before the digital boom. Since so many of these changes are being made globally, it often puts new design students at a disadvantage as some universities struggle to keep up with the technology education.

In fashion school, students learn the fundamentals such as drawing, fabric cutting, the size of a model, the history of the industry, etc. These skills and learnings are crucial for any designer’s portfolio, but digital fashion requires an even deeper understanding of these and other essential concepts.

“Technical apprenticeship 3D skillswhether alone or at work, is critical become a native of the metaverse fashion designer.”

Nazarova explains that digital skill sets like designing digital-physical hybrid creations, virtualizing samples, and creating digital-only merchandise should definitely be incorporated into the fashion education curriculum, as they apply directly to the fashion industry. world they live in.

“Virtual clothing appeals primarily to young consumers who understand the importance of presenting unique digital assets to their online community versus owning physical assets that only those around them can appreciate,” she said. “Online reach is increased tenfold. They also have a natural interest in connecting with people in virtual environments.

Our digital identities, whether they are Tamagotchi virtual pets, Sims characters, or gaming avatars, naturally evolve with the human need to belong, to personalize, and to create. Millennials and Gen Z know how to do this better than anyone, because those are the types of digital experiences they grew up on.

“The new you”Idiat Shiole

Professors have much of the advantage in determining the direction of fashion, as they are responsible for teaching designers the basics of space – from how to cut a garment to how to run a business. At the same time, they aren’t the only ones responsible for providing the knowledge of 3D prototyping, technology trends, consumer reporting, and software needs demanded by the metaverse – this is also a matter for universities and fashion leaders.

“You can’t teach anyone without knowing the product yourself,” Bowring said. As a teacher, I read everything and show the students what the designs will look like digitally. It is gratifying because the students want to knowing what will happen in the future.

But the environment is changing rapidly, increasing second by second the gap between the current education of students and experience related to the industry.

“Future generations face an urgent need to improve production cycles, profit structures and the way buyers are incentivized,” said Nazarova. become a native metaverse fashion designer.

Fashion 101

The future of digital fashion is being built in real time by creatives and engineers collaborating on better 3D tools, interoperability and resilience of for-profit corporate robots to push for a more transparent platform. .

Just as a fashion house appoints its directors to change the direction of the brand, so should professors. Without the right preparation and the right resources, new designers won’t have the investment needed to create fully. “If previously students needed validation from industry gatekeepers to grow,” said Nazarova, “now they can build a community around their products directly and grow alongside their fan base. “

“If it’s a digital only product, then the materials, form, function and physics can all to be interrogates. “

Ultimately, there really aren’t any physical or creative limitations in digital design, making the next generation of fashion designers a relatively limitless source of creativity, as long as technology and education continue to evolve. “It is not possible to successfully and exquisitely design and develop without physical knowledge,” Chiles said. “But of course, that’s if the end result has to become physical. If it is a digital-only product, then the materials, form, function and physics can all be questioned.

Although the exclusivity of luxury and capitalism is maintained digitally, as The Manufacturer’s NFT Iridescence Dress Sold for $ 9,500, Nazarova, Chiles and Bowring all agree that the future of metamode is still unclear. Fashion has always been about community and storytelling, two main pillars of the metaverse that is promised to us. That doesn’t mean every designer will understand it, but at least the building blocks are there for everyone to access.

Idiat Shiole

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