As fashion shows were canceled or moved online during the pandemic and the industry grappled with how to support itself and the renewed attention toward sustainability, another movement was growing. Inspired by skins in gaming and accelerated by the sale of The Fabricant’s digital “Iridescence” dress for $9,500 in May 2019, digital fashion was starting to take shape. At its helm were Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova, the founders of DressX, who initially set out to solve how digital-only clothes could exist on content platforms. In 2019, they launched a series of pop-up stores in Los Angeles that focused on content production and enabled them to their concepts. After a year of prototypes and research, the DressX site was launched in July 2020 to bring digital fashion to consumers.
“Everything has moved into the world of technology, and fashion definitely lacks that speed of progress,” said Shapovalova. “Fashion has so much history and craft, but there is also so much room for innovation. It is through this intersection with different fields that fashion can produce amazing and innovative results.”
As the potential has turned into reality, digital clothing, fashion shows and NFT’s have dominated the conversation in 2021. “It might seem like one technology makes the whole ecosystem shift, but it’s these missing elements like machine learning AI, augmented reality, blockchain, virtual reality, efficiency and even hardware that are truly important for wide-scale progress,” said Modenova.
This year, DressX has launched many brands on its platform, including young designers like Alejando Delgado and Anciela, who have seen the opportunity for a fruitful career path in digital fashion design. “In digital fashion, even the fashion production and catwalk schedule can be changed,” said Shapovalova. “Some physical clothes don’t need to be produced, while others should have a physical original and also digital copies. Some people don’t want to possess physical wardrobes, but they do want to possess luxury things, which means they can buy non-fungible tokens and cryptocurrency to engage in the field.”
Evolving from initial interest in fashion as a digital concept to brand involvement, digital fashion has been one of the biggest winners of the last year. Brands like Balenciaga, which launched its fall 2021 fashion collection through its own game, “Afterworld,” have now permanently entered the digital space and are looking at digital fashion as a key element to their business models.