As this article is being written, the word metaverse is all the rage in fashion journalism. On 28th November 2021, Mark Zuckerberg presented his vision of a “persistent virtual plane that brings elements of the real and digital world together in an unified, seamless and immersive experience”.
Intrigued by seemingly endless possibilities, traditional brands like Dior, Gucci and Ralph Lauren have already ventured into this vertical to release new virtual products alongside specialized digital-only clothing brands such as Ducth-based company The Fabricant and Australian-based Screenwear.
Fashion in the Metaverse promesses to free the consumers and brands from the limitations of traditional fashion.
Fashion in the Metaverse, strongly linked with the notions of NFT (Non Fungible Tokens) and Cryptocurrency, promesses to free the consumers and brands from the limitations of traditional fashion. These digital products will allow us to be completely immersed in the culture, to democratize fashion and luxury consumption and to decentralize the current power structure of fashion. All of this under the lens of ecology, citing the reduction of energy consumption and emissions as the most mentioned argument cited by supporters of digital fashion.
A massive consumption of digital fashion could skyrocket energy consumption to unprecedented levels.
A digital fashion week has also been launched by Decentraland in order to showcase all wearable designs with sometimes the option to buy a physical replica of one’s preferred look.
And yet, ethical risks associated with digital fashion aren’t to be taken lightly. By promoting extensive usage of social media and digital connection, physical and psychological problems are arising especially in regards to sleep troubles and development of anxiety troubles in teens. The ecological claims are also under review since a massive consumption of digital fashion could skyrocket energy consumption to unprecedented levels, leading to the same issues linked with fast-fashion.
It is too early to judge digital fashion as it is still in its baby years. It could evolve in a sustainable way to create new designs for influencers without the need of purchasing the physical models. Or it might also become an extended platform for a new breed of designers.
However, it sounds unlikely that this phenomenon will replace real fashion as people will still need to dress for the real world. And in a real world that requires urgent solutions such as innovation in industrial processes, development of sustainable and qualitative fabrics and, moreover, a change in perspective on how we collectively consume fashion, it might not be the savior we hope it’s going to be.