How metaverse is redesigning the fashion industry

By Saijal Choudhary

The ever-changing technology has revolutionised the way fashion platforms and global companies operate. The increased consumer knowledge and consistent demand for innovation has made fashion much more complicated than buying and selling.

The Fashion Industry has seen significant transformations in recent years, from the decline of fast fashion to the rise of slow fashion, incorporating sustainable majors in the production cycle, changing consumer behavior, and now brands trying to combine augmented reality and virtual reality. The emergence of a metaverse in fashion and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) has provided new dimensions for fashion designers and clothing brands to express their creativity beyond imagination and rights to patent their art. 

Heading What is Metaverse? 

Metaverse implies the future is beyond anything we can imagine which alternatively claims an artificial world. The word Meta is derived from the Greek word basically meaning “Beyond “ and Verse is derived from the word “Universe”. It is a virtual world where we meet and interact online which will feel more natural, personalised, and immersive. It is a place where retail stores are never closed and the shelves are full of endless products, experiences, and revenues.

In simple terms, Metaverse is a collective, parallel reality compiled by joining all the virtual worlds to form an artificial universe that we can seamlessly transform into. This will supersede the present realities of the internet and take us to a superficial world from the comfort spaces of our homes.

Metaverse in Fashion Industry.

The metaverse in fashion offers a unique opportunity for designers, brands, and innovators to consumers. This platform creates an engagement between brands and consumers in new ways of designing clothes, customisation of products, and virtual shopping. It allows designers to experiment with their imaginative ideas of designing unbounded textiles, prints, garments, and accessories which could be a limitation to produce in the real world. As Mark Zuckerberg expresses “ We’ll swipe through outfits in a virtual closet each morning and dress our digital avatars in clothing ranging from realistic to outlandish.”

Opportunities in the Era of Digital Fashion.

The first idea of a metaverse in fashion could be alienated to decode as over the last decades we are acquainted with the entire excitement of visiting our favorite retail outlets to buy and try out for our wardrobes. However, now across all design domains, it has gained acceptance to this digitalisation, and fashion experts are taking serious steps to implement the idea of metaverse in the future of fashion. 

In the fashion retail industry, the metaverse is not only limited to buying and trying but it could introduce multiple innovations in sustainable management, enhancing supply chain models, employee recruitment, career opportunities, education system, and a kind of customer experience.

Translation of Real to Virtual in Fashion.

In 2022, the Metaverse Fashion Week took place in Decentraland from 24-27 March. Many leading companies participated in the fashion week such as Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce Gabbana, and Etro along with other top brands. The fashion week at Decentraland was designed graphically in the same format as the traditional runways but the experience of the creation, intricacy of garment details, and silhouettes were not enticing as in the real world. This digital runway exhibited many obstacles in translating the real-world experience to an upgraded virtual realm. 

To have a successful impact in the metaverse, brands would need to reiterate their strategy on their engagement plan to focus on more interactive audience experiences. Metaverse fashion week 2022 was an opportunity for brands to explore the possibilities of digital fashion and embrace the constraints of this new concept. There is a customer base who is ready to invest in the world of digital fashion but this would need advanced technologies to convince them to invest. 

Metaverse in Education.

The metaverse has become globally popular and in recent times the fashion specialised institutions have introduced metaverse learning experiences as the core part of their fashion curriculum. They offer specialised studio classes where students learn the software of “3d Modeling” and this is an essential part of learning just like the technical skills of Garment Making and Draping. This software enables students to design in virtual spaces and drape patterns on avatars. This skill culminated in students reimagining textiles, silhouettes, and embellishments in the metaverse.

This shift in fashion and advancement in metaverse curriculum has created new career opportunities for fashion designers to also work as animation and graphic designers.

Future of Metaverse.

With the current scenario, It is ambiguous to derive a conclusion if this upgraded technology will completely transform the fashion industry as it is in the process of its developmental phase. But it is exciting with the mix of real and virtual shopping experiences. This new technology has the potential to hopefully allow this industry which is known for polluting and producing major waste in the environment to clean up and be more sustainable.

The author is design manager, The Design Village (TDV).

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