The online metaverse is coming and if we’re
going to be spending more time in virtual worlds, there’s one crucial
question: What are you going to wear?
“When I first started talking about this, my friends were like, ‘What are
you talking about?'” said 27-year-old Daniella Loftus.
“But my 14-year-old cousins understood it immediately.”
For many, the idea of buying clothes that don’t exist is a conceptual leap
But emerging digital fashion stores are tapping into a growing market —
not actual clothes but digitally generated outfits that stores simply
photoshop onto a customer’s photos or videos to be posted onto Instagram and
Soon they are likely to become a way to dress your avatar when interacting
in online games and meeting places, all potentially while reclining in sweat
pants in your own home.
British influencer Loftus sees so much potential that last month she gave
up her job with a fashion consultancy to devote herself full-time to her
website, This Outfit Does Not Exist.
Her Instagram shows the potential of virtual clothing that doesn’t need to
obey the laws of physics — from a shimmering silver liquid pant suit with
tentacles, to a wobbling pink creation with lasers firing out of her bustier.
“Digital is coming to overtake physical. Kids are asking each other: ‘What
skin did you have in this game yesterday?'” said Loftus.
Isabelle Boemeke, a Brazilian model and influencer, is already an avid
buyer of digital outfits.
Online, she is known as Isodope and merges high fashion with a serious
commitment to clean energy and environmental activism.
Her other-worldly style fits neatly with her message.
“I wanted to do something very eye-catching and bold. If my videos featured
me wearing a T-shirt and jeans, they wouldn’t have the same appeal,” Boemeke
“Models nowadays have the freedom to share more about their personal lives
and personalities. I’m a big nerd and I love expressing myself in different
ways through fashion or makeup.”
That’s the demand, so the supply is coming fast.
Outfits on digital fashion store DressX range from 25 dollar hats to strange
jellyfish-like dresses for hundreds of dollars.
“Every brand in the future will be on board with digital fashion,” said
DressX co-founder Daria Shapovalova.
Its own research says 15 percent of customers are doing so for Instagram
posts, and almost a quarter found it satisfied their need for a new item of
“You don’t necessarily need physicality to experience the thrill of wearing
an extraordinary garment,” said Michaela Larosse, of The Fabricant, which sold
the first ever digital-only dress in May 2019 for $9,500.
“We will all have a digital self, we’ll have an avatar and you’ll be able
to communicate something about yourself, who you are, what you’re interested
in, through the iteration of your avatar.”
Environmental concerns are also key to their appeal.
The traditional fashion industry is one of the biggest pollutants and waste
generators on the planet — a point made by Extinction Rebellion protesters
who stormed the Louis Vuitton catwalk in Paris on Tuesday.
“I know many women who buy an outfit, wear it once for a single photo and
never again,” said Boemeke.
“They could reduce consumption and waste by using digital fashion for a few
of those posts.”
The pandemic was an obvious accelerator for these businesses.
“People were stuck at home with nothing to do. They had nowhere to wear
those beautiful clothes,” said Loftus.
She is clear that digital fashion is not yet for everyone — and may never
“I don’t know if a lot of the people who do this stuff online actually want
to meet people in person. I think that a lot of their needs and desires can be
satisfied online,” said Loftus.
It may also prove a great leveller — a way for anti-social people to
(almost literally) shed their skin and adopt another.
“You might be an accountant with a wife, kids, and you’re happy being quite
mundane in real life, but then the way you want to express yourself in these
virtual worlds is totally different,” she said.(AFP)