We’ve all been a victim of fashion fatigue – trends can be tedious and we’re constantly consuming. If the fashion world is feeling a bit oversaturated, then cyber fashion might be the solution.
Fashion inherently lies on being social – it is not only form of self-expression, but we also use clothing to signify something about ourselves to other people. The fashion industry has completely transformed over the last few months, with the current lack of physical contact changing the way we consume fashion and engage with it.
Enter cyber fashion – virtual clothing, rather than physical garments. Some might say it was inevitable, the next wave of fashion going digital – who needs to buy real clothes if no one is going to see you in them?
But ‘contactless clothing’ doesn’t just hold weight in the coronavirus-age, it’s an answer to our growing collective consciousness about sustainability in the fashion world. It presents a conflict for many of us – fast fashion reigns largely due to our desire to be constantly stimulated and our fascination with what’s next, and sustainable options aren’t necessarily accessible for everyone, so with a guilty conscience, we keep buying and buying. On top of that, cultivating your online presence is more important than ever, part of which involves that you stay current and, god forbid, not wear the same outfit twice. Whether or not it’ll go mainstream, there’s no doubt that cyber fashion is bridging the gap in fashion, and addressing notions of accessibility and sustainability.
It’s these principles that led to the emergence of “Tribute Brand” – a “platform specialized in cyber fashion.” The concept is simple: on their website, there is a selection of garments that you can purchase, but instead of a physical product delivery, it requires you to upload a photo of yourself upon which the garment will be superimposed onto. The aesthetics are certainly unique, with PAPER Magazine describing the clothes as “avant-garde-meets-futuristic-street-style-outer-space,” with most pieces ranging from $29 to $99 and the label even offers to make custom pieces.
While some may deem the price outlandish for a virtual garment, there is a team of experts in fashion, CGI 3D modelling, UX design and coding behind the process, curating a unique piece that cannot be simply replicated. Their philosophy is that the virtual space is where we source content from, as well as being the platform in which we create content for – if our identities are already inherently bound to the virtual space, then cyber fashion is just another manifestation of that. In doing so, they break down the boundaries of fashion: no gender, no size, no shipping and no waste.
This mode of fashion has slowly been gaining traction over the years, even though it’s one of the last industries to fully embrace the virtual – only after a global pandemic are tides starting to shift. Carlings, a Scandinavian retailer, were among the first to dip into the virtual fashion pool by launching an entirely digital collection titled “Neo-Ex” in 2018. Operating on the same basis as Tribute Brand, the Neo-Ex collection had a similar feel to the label’s clothing: futuristic video-game character meets Instagram influencer meets streetwear enthusiast.
Virtual fashion, then, gives us the ability to try something different (like a floor-length bubble coat) without actually committing to it. The potential for virtual fashion could even extend beyond streetwear – last year, a piece of “digital couture” by digital fashion house The Fabricant auctioned for $9500. The technology is also showcasing some smaller designers, like the highly-praised about Hanifa fashion show that occurred in May. All in all, this is a sector of the industry that’s moving fast, and it has the potential to “represent one percent of the fashion market share at $25 billion.”
It isn’t likely that cyber fashion will completely overhaul the way we interact with fashion – after all, one of the best parts about fashion is feeling like the clothes are yours. It does, however, represent an exciting new area of growth for the fashion industry and shows that we are conscious of some of the negative consequences of our fast-paced, trend-obsessed world.
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