Image by The Fabricant

The fashion industry is going through a transition from analog to digital, induced by the coronavirus pandemic and the rise in global temperatures, triggering an increasing pressure on the industry to become more sustainable. Viewing the current fashion industry challenges within the context of shifting consumer desires and online behaviors, 3D clothing will soon become a mainstream consumer pastime. Technological advances allow those without 3D modeling skills and software to digitally style their own outfits. It amazes me to see how very few established fashion brands are anticipating on this development.

What we can learn form the gaming industry

Paying for digital clothing has already been normalized for players of games. Players can buy virtual clothes for their characters, which becomes a status symbol among teenagers. Everyone has a virtual identity, and that is only going to get bigger. A game like League of Legends is free to play, but it makes a lot of money with skins. The same goes for Fortnite, it generated $ 4.2 billion in 2018-2019 and was the most profitable game out there for two consecutive years. According to surveys, players spend 59% of all their Fortnite spend on character outfits. Be aware: Digital fashion is going to be as big as retail.

Luxury brands entering the gaming scene

Unsurprisingly, brands outside of the gaming world now want a slice of the pie. The luxury fashion industry in particular explores the opportunity to target these consumers. From gaming-inspired fashion designs, to brands creating their own games there’s been a lot of activity in this space. The idea of luxury digital clothing has been around for over four years now. In 2016, Lightning, a female character from the best-selling Final Fantasy VIII video game series made waves as she fronted Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer campaign by Nicolas Ghesquière. New games like Animal Crossing from Nintendo allow players to replicate their favorite items from Gucci, Prada, Valentino and download the designs for their characters in-game at no cost. Luxury fashion brands are also signing up to more exclusive partnership deals. One example is Louis Vuitton, who last year designed two custom skins for heroes Qiyana and Senna in League of Legends. With skins available to purchase from in-game tokens, it means that consumers who can’t afford the ready-to-wear Louis Vuitton collection are still able to (virtually) experience the brand through gaming.

Campaign of game character Lightning for Louis Vuitton

Dutch pride. Pioneers of digital clothing

A couple of years ago, I interviewed Amber Slooten and Kerry Murphy, founders of The Fabricant, for my fashion-tech masterclass, presented in the MBA course of the Rome International Business School. The Fabricant is a digital fashion house, helping brands create digital alternatives to fashion shows, trade fairs and the traditional shopping experience. At the beginning of this year, they teamed up with Dutch digital design agency Your Majesty to develop the world’s first digital-only fashion platform: LEELA. This Beta platform allows users to create their own digital self - a photo-real avatar - and try on digital garments in a non-physical world of digital fashion. At the point of purchase, the shopper uploads a photo of themselves onto which the digital garment is placed, ready for them to share online.

Digital clothing. A sustainable option for fashion.

Compared to the complex supply chain issues around making fashion more sustainable, digital seems a lot easier. It allows for new clothes to be made in a different medium with little to no production cost. Although the graphic design is time-consuming, it allows for new physical qualities for the clothes, more flexibility for design and zero reliance on resources like textiles and machinery. This makes digital an attractive option. A turn towards the digital could be a renaissance for new clothes – a modern form of fashion, one that could still change as quickly as the current fashion cycles,

Benefits of investing in 3D Fashion Design Software and start digital transformation

3D modeling has changed the way we design; for the better. Using 3D modeling for design allows the designer to see what they would not see when designing in 2D. Utilizing 3D software with interactive 3D drawings enables users to create more ‘what if’ scenarios, reducing the margin for error. By designing in 3D you could instantly review changes as any modifications to 2D patterns, colors, textures and finishing details are immediately simulated. Also this enables improvement of quality of designs by checking silhouette and fit sooner in the development process, allowing sample time for refinement before finalization. Imagine reducing design preparation time and diving into the design process right away with prepared blocks. And how about quickly sketching new designs directly on your Avatar and automatically generate pattern pieces? It will get you ahead of the costing process by finalizing styles far ahead of regular production lead times. Last but not least, investing in 3D design software eliminates unnecessary physical sampling and shipping costs by seeing all changes immediately on 3D samples. Conclusion: 3D implementation in the fashion and retail industry is a match made in heaven.

Need advice or help in your digital transformation? ISRID offers a Business Collection of services and programs: Inspiration, Intelligence and Implementation. Made to measure for your company and teams. Feel free to reach out to me.

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