What we can expect from digital fashion in 2023

Digital fashion remains a hot topic in the fashion industry. However, due to the rapid development during 2022, it has moved beyond virtual clothing collections and collaborations with games. FashionUnited has listed a number of trends in the digital fashion industry for this year.

Sew here refresh your knowledge of metaverse terms.

Passing is virtual

Virtual try-ons (VTOs) can extend a brand’s shopping experience and open up new opportunities for online shopping and different ways to engage customers. Specific technologies that have been used are augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI), both of which allow for such functionality while personalizing the shopping process. Data on VTO confirm its importance. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 56 percent of shoppers said they feel more confident about a product after using AR, while 62 percent of shoppers said they now prefer to shop at retailers that offer AR experiences.

H&M AR clothing. Image: Snap

In addition, Perfect Corp, a technology company that develops AR and AI solutions for beauty and fashion retailers, also reported strong consumer response to its own VTO capabilities. The company’s YouCam app, which allows shoppers to try on products through AR camera lenses, reported that more than 270 million fashion accessories were “tried on” through the feature, especially for eyewear styles that contributed to 18 percent of VTOs in the first half of the year. by 2022. More and more fashion brands have also started to implement the function in their own e-commerce. H&M and Puma are even adding AR to their apps so customers can test products at home.

Exclusivity is supported by blockchain

The luxury fashion industry would likely be one of the biggest supporters of the metaverse in 2022, as a myriad of brands and designers entered the virtual world through events, collection launches and collaborations. Its appeal is largely centered around technology that enables a sense of exclusivity, often requiring customers to purchase digital assets to gain access to limited products and occasions. This usually takes the form of blockchain-backed assets such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that provide individual ownership, thereby unlocking exclusive features for buyers.

Prada Time capsule t-shirt, January 2023. Image: Prada

This sense of community is something that luxury and premium shoppers actively seek, said House of Blueberry founder and CEO Mishi McDuff, who told FashionUnited: “Metaverse users are increasingly not buying specific products or individual brands. a larger community where they can socialize, practice self-expression and feel a sense of belonging.” Despite the fluctuating value of NFTs, several iterations of the concept began to appear towards the end of 2022, such as Prada’s Timecapsule collection, which offers buyers an NFT, access to a gated Discord community and an invitation to the fashion show in Milan offered. Nike also revealed that it would unveil a Web3 community in 2023 where members can win opportunities to co-create virtual designs.

Retail is taking over the gaming world

Courtesy of Lacoste

There is no doubt that gaming fashion played a major role in the industry in 2022, with a large number of brands and retailers using gaming platforms to make their digital fashion debut through collections, events and store openings. However, it is the latter that looks set to make a clear entry into retail as brands begin to adopt virtual storefronts and flagships in an attempt to connect with consumers in a new world. While some brands, like Lacoste, are simply opening virtual versions of their brick-and-mortar stores where shoppers can buy digital clothes and play in-store games, others are developing more elaborate settings in preparation for the expected shift to metaverse shopping.

According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), more and more people are turning to this format, often through virtual reality (VR) products, to shop online, marking a big change for the future of retail. The company’s Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey reported that about a third of respondents had used a VR channel in the first six months of 2022, with 32 percent saying they bought products after viewing them on VR platforms. In addition, almost a fifth of the group said they buy luxury goods. Brands have responded to this shift by launching their own virtual shopping experiences, promoting the feature through the use of interactive avatar retailers, customized products and connections to real-world initiatives.

Phygitalization is the new normal

The term “phygital” refers to products and experiences that exist both physically and digitally. The trend recognizes that despite the increased interest in metaverse experiences, real life still shapes consumer behavior. By integrating both, through physical events, collections or VR experiences, brands hope to expand their reach and potentially gain more customers through new means. Brands like Diesel have begun experimenting with this concept by introducing collections with accompanying NFTs, giving the buyer pieces of clothing that can be worn both physically and in their metaverse.

The rise in phygitalization has also been predicted by Boson Portal co-founder and CEO Jason Banon, who spoke to FashionUnited on the topic in 2022. Banon noted that NFT prices should be bolstered by physical products, so Gen Z felt the need to buy into the trend . “It’s likely that a year from now, all these high-end luxury items will have this kind of digital or phygital shade to complement them,” he added, further noting that this could be the norm due to the growing need for relevance . among younger target groups.

Image: Burberry + Minecraft.

Web3 drives e-commerce

Essentially, the term Web3 refers to what has come to be known as the “new” Internet, a step up from today’s Web2 platforms that, rather than being controlled by corporations, seek to democratize the online world, allowing individuals to create their own creation. and control online experiences, own their data and have access to open source information. Although the concept is not yet fully developed, it slowly seeped through in late 2022 through the launch of Web3-focused accelerator programs and the development of advanced e-commerce “worlds” that should provide new ways to shop.

Web3’s integration may include elements such as cryptocurrency payment options, metaverse-based experiences, and trusted authentication processes that leverage encrypted digital identities that can improve governance and protect against abuse. Retailers and brands that have already adopted such a strategy include Farfetch, Gucci and Philipp Plein, pointing to the concept’s position in luxury.

Independent digital fashion is on the rise

While independent digital fashion designers have essentially ruled the industry, it can be difficult for them to maintain their position amid increasing competition and lack of pay. That is why more and more platforms are emerging that support these people in an attempt to make money in digital fashion and support those who are up in the industry. One of these is Draup, a digital fashion marketplace that hopes to attract an audience not yet engrossed in the concept and provide designers with an economic stage.

Photo: Yimeng Yu

Speaking to FashionUnited last year, the platform’s founder, Danielle Loftus, said: “I always want to come back to these young creators because that’s what got me most excited from the start. By creating a consumer experience where people really understand which value they get out of their clothes and can also generate income from it, my hope is that more people will buy from these amazing designers and that more designers will come to.”

Blueberry’s McDuff also envisioned this, albeit in a different form, with designers using the digital world of fashion to gain a foothold in the wider industry. Speaking of this shift, she said: “I see an opportunity in the future where fashion designers can prove their business model and create demand by going virtual first, with little overhead and investment, and still get off the ground and generate enough revenue to then dive into real fashion. This new audience and new method of expressing creativity will give talented designers a chance to compete.”

Digital inclusion defines consumer values

House of blueberry avatars. Image: House of Blueberry

While inclusiveness and diversity are necessary in the real world, in the digital world they are still a fairly new topic of conversation. However, a shift in this area is on the horizon as tech companies and independent brands commit to a more diverse workforce and try to attract a younger, open-minded generation. Roblox’s latest report on digital fashion trends confirmed this sentiment, with the majority of respondents calling for a range of customization options for their avatars, including a range of skin tones, body sizes and personality traits. The majority also noted the importance of digital apparel designs being inclusive.

McDuff of House of Blueberry further highlighted this trend, noting, “People want to see themselves authentically reflected in the metaverse. Offering a variety of body, skin, and clothing options for avatars will be critical to achieving full representation.” Her feelings were reflected in the digital fashion brand itself, which as one of its biggest sellers has found a pair of jeans with stretch marks through tears in the material.

This article was previously published on FashionUnited UK. Translation and editing into Dutch by Caitlyn Terra.

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