But does it represent a democratisation of fashion too? This is just one of many open questions and perhaps it’s still too early for definitive answers. But let’s take look at these dilemmas, at least.
One of the strongest claims from the advocates of digital fashion is that it is hugely sustainable, since it lives entirely in the digital world without depleting resources, wasting water, producing a carbon footprint, shipping goods around the globe, etc. This is something we’re actually seeing even among young designers who are approaching this direction: “I’m into digital fashion because it is very ethical and respectful of the planet.”
But what does this mean, that we won’t be dressing in the physical world anymore? Are we headed towards the Matrix? Because if this is not the case there’s still 7,9 billion people on the planet who need actual clothing to survive in the physical world. And of these, the (sadly) tiny amount that goes out for dinner won’t want to wear the same outfit all the time because “there’s digital fashion and my SN life is covered”. Digital fashion comes as an add-on of traditional fashion. It’s processes surely are more sustainable, but the growth of this sector means more servers to store the stuff, that need more cooling, that consume more energy, that increase the carbon footprint… combined with unchanged traditional fashion, that has not disappeared.
Optimising design development by using digital tools in order to reach production point having wasted as little resources as possible is, indeed, an amazing improvement. But a purely digital fashion seems like an additional market place, with additional customers, that didn’t exist before and most importantly leaves what existed before untouched.
There is another almost philosophical question to the problem: do we really want this kind of acceleration on virtuality? Some believe it opens huge potential for the exploration of self, for deeper reflections on who we are as human beings, particularly because it allows to explore the unreal too: worlds and clothes that would never exist in the real world, bending the laws of physics.This may be true for the savvy explorers and the university professors, what about young teenagers or bored office workers with no time to dissect what the world is throwing at them? If we create pictures of ourselves that are indistinguishable from reality but do not exist in reality, will we improve our ability to cope with real problems, and real life?
Digital Influencer Lil Miquela, a purely digital character wearing digital fashion with 1.3 million followers on instagram (credit: thevision.com)