Social media has encouraged a culture of consumerism, as it provides the opportunity to buy and then post about the never ending stream of fashion trends. This trend-based culture is supported by fast-fashion retailers who make it easy to get our hands on them. However, as consumers have become increasingly aware of the harmful impacts of the apparel industry, and fast-fashion in particular, a decision presents itself: choose to consume and accept the negative consequences, buy less, or stop consuming altogether. For those of us in the fashion industry who enjoy being part of the zeitgeist and sharing our style online, the choice to do the right thing can come with personal sacrifice which makes the decision *slightly* more challenging.
Enter: digital fashion where you are able to virtually try on new garments and accessories, removing the need for manufacturing and shipping – two of the most socially and environmentally harmful activities along the global fashion supply chain.
Digital fashions are the result of computer generated imagery, and use digital prototyping and fit technology. Digital fashion is a virtual fashion experience that thrives on imagination and creativity, with sustainability at its core. It’s a renaissance movement in the fashion space, moving beyond the dynamics and rigidity of the traditional fashion system. It represents a revolution against the polluting nature of physical fashion. An eco-friendly alternative, digital fashion produces and exhausts nothing but data, and keeps your wardrobe clutter-free.
Malika, a sustainable fashion blogger said, “I am always on the hunt for new trends and styles, but I also care about the associated carbon footprint. It’s good to know that digital fashion is here to save the day by allowing people to try out new and conceptual outfits, and also enabling them to experiment and play around with different styles that they’ve been wanting to try”.
A white cotton shirt emits 10.75 kg CO2e into the atmosphere while its digital counterpart emits only 0.312kg of CO2e. By some estimates, digital fashion can reduce emissions by a whopping 95%. Digital fashion is therefore one solution for fashion’s harmful social and environmental impact. And it’s one that is gaining traction in the industry.
Big brands and fashion schools have even started to take notice. Brands like Burberry and Louis Vuitton have recognized the business opportunity of digital fashion, particularly in the gaming space. And the London College of Fashion at the University of the Arts London has an entire lab – The Digital Anthropology Lab – dedicated to research into the intersection of fashion and technology, which includes digital fashion.
These garments can be purchased – as you would with normal fashions – and shared online, allowing the “wearer” to showcase their personal style and flex their creative muscles, conscience-free. Jessi, a digital fashion enthusiast said, “I’ve been researching digital fashion for a couple of months now so to get the chance to actually try it on was so exciting! All I had to do was pick a piece from XR Couture that I wanted to try on – I chose these great pants – and the result is a much better outfit than I had on originally!”
Now, this isn’t the solution for everyone. As mentioned, digital fashion costs money but can only be “worn” online – it doesn’t physically exist and so it cannot be worn outside, for obvious reasons. But if this sounds like something that would scratch your newness and social-media-sharing itch, XR Couture is one of the digital fashion platforms leaving no stone unturned to make the digital fashion revolution a success. Founder of XR Couture, Subham Jain, had this to say: “As staunch supporters of sustainable fashion, we aim to reduce the carbon footprints associated with the fashion industry by half. With a pool of stellar designers on board, we are sure in our ability to make digital fashion the norm in the industry by spreading awareness far and wide.” And as advocates for sustainable fashion ourselves, we hope that more industry players and consumers start to engage with this new tech-enabled solution in the years to come.