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Digital fashion

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Digital fashion garments can be posed and composited onto photographs which can then be uploaded to social media to showcase the outfit.
Digital fashion garments can be posed and composited onto photographs which can then be uploaded to social media to showcase the outfit.

Digital Fashion is a field of fashion design that relies on 3D software or artificial intelligence to produce hyper-realistic, data-intensive digital 3D garment simulations that are digital-only products or digital models for physical products.[1] Digital garments can be worn and presented in virtual environments, social media, online gaming, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) platforms. [2] The field contributes to the development of a more sustainable future for the fashion industry It has often been praised as an answer to ethical and creative concerns of traditional fashion by promoting innovation, reducing waste, and encouraging conscious consumption.[2]

Digital fashion is also the interplay between digital technology and couture. Human AI is an intersection of technology and human representation. Where human value is emphasized and enhanced by technology and the possibilities of discovering design. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been deeply integrated both into the fashion industry, as well as within the experience of clients and prospects. Such interplay has happened at three main levels.

  1. ICTs are used to design and produce fashion products, while also the industry organization leverages onto digital technologies.
  2. ICTs impact marketing, distribution and sales.
  3. ICTs are extensively used in communication activities with all relevant stakeholders, and contribute to co-create the fashion world.

The fashion industry in general has paved the way for digital fashion to be introduced with more technology being in the industry like virtual dressing rooms and the gamification of the fashion industry. Digital fashion is also seen in many different online fashion retail websites. It may be seen on common websites you shop on. This evolution in the fashion industry has called for more education and research of digital fashion which will also be discussed in this article.

Design, production, and organization[edit]

Among the many applications available to fashion designers to model the fusion of creativity with digital avenues, the Digital Textile Printing can be mentioned here.

Digital textile printing[edit]

Digital textile printing has brought together the worlds of fashion, technology, art, chemistry, and printing to produce a new process for printing textiles on clothing.[3]

Digital printing is a process in which prints are directly applied to fabrics with printer, reducing 95% the use of water, 75% the use of energy, and minimizing textile waste. The main advantage of digital printing is the ability to do very small runs of each design (even less than 1 yard).[4]

Digital Textile printing also offers other benefits such fast printing speeds that help the time and space needed to print different patterns on garments of choice.[3]

Example of digital textile printing using an Inkjet printer to create a butterfly design on a t-shirt using water-based color ink.

Digital Textile printing is “probably the greatest innovation of 21-st century fashion" as declared by Christina Binkley in the Wall Street Journal. The “vastly improved digital printing technologies allow designers to innovate while beefing up their brands“.[citation needed]

Brands such as Prada, Pucci or Jil Sander are using this technology to invent their design ideas on fabric.

Marketing, distribution, and sales[edit]

While all digital channels can be used in order to market and sell fashion completely online (eCommerce), they usually are implemented in connection with offline channels (so-called "omni-channel"). Here, virtual and augmented reality is playing a crucial role.

The fashion industry has faced its own problems including pollution and fabric waste, which has resulted in a shift to more sustainable methods like digital fashion. The industry is also constantly being intertwined with digital media and has allowed for the use of digital tools within the business itself and with consumers.[5] Two of the ways digital fashion is utilized with consumers is through virtual dressing rooms and virtual cosmetic counters.

Prospects and clients can use ICTs - own computers, tablets and smartphones - to virtually simulate fitting rooms and cosmetics counters, and see how they look in specific outfits and makeup.[6] Customers can give any look and decide on what to suits and buy products.

Sephora, the beauty specialty retailer, and ModiFace, an augmented reality virtual makeover technology provider, today announced the launch of a 3D Augmented Reality Mirror that can simulate cosmetics on a user's face in real-time and in 3D. The new patented technology, created by ModiFace, tracks the precise location of a user's facial features and applies eye shadow colors directly on the video feed from a camera.[7][8]

Oftentimes beauty retailers will feature virtual fitting rooms to allow users to experience the look of their product before committing to a purchase. Some examples are color contact retailers Freshlook, which allows users to simulate contact lens wear in their color contacts studio before purchase.[9] Colorful Eyes also offers a virtual color contact lens try on room.[10] The 3D printing service is very advance now a days and due to high demand of 3d printed t shirs it is difficult to find a good vendor for your apparel. There is some good vendors who provide manufacturing and prinitng services on apparel[11]

Virtual dressing room[edit]

A virtual dressing room[12] (also often referred to as virtual fitting room and virtual changing room although they do perform different functions) is the online equivalent of the near-ubiquitous in-store changing room – that is, it enables shoppers to try on clothes to check one or more of size, fit or style, but virtually rather than physically.

The multimedia communication company Eyemagnet developed the Virtual Dressing Room for the Hallensteins menswear chain. The changing room is transformed to a single panel which reflects the user. These users can then use simple arm and hand gestures to ‘try on’ any apparel in the store, take a photo of any selected outfit and have it sent to their mobile phone. Newer versions of this technology eliminate the arm-waving altogether.[13]

Fashion retailer Topshop installed a Kinect-powered virtual fitting room at its Moscow store. Created by AR Door, the Augmented Fitting Room system overlays 3D augmented reality clothes on the customer. Simple gestures and on-screen buttons let users "try on" different outfits.[14] However, the high variability of virtual fit platforms to predict consumer clothes sizes called into question the accuracy of these systems in their current form.[15]

Nike is among the brands that have incorporated ground-breaking AR technology that allows customers to try on shoes virtually. This function incorporated in 2019 into both Nike's mobile app and retail stores is called "Nike Fit" and was created so that costumers can accurately determine their shoe size, as according to their website “three out of every five people are likely wearing the wrong size shoe”.[16]

In June 2020, Gucci partnered up with Snapchat and unveiled a filter that allowed users to test how the brand's shoes looked on their feet.[17]

Communication and experience co-creation[edit]

Fashion is also a matter of socially negotiating what is "in" or "out", fashionable or not. In other words, fashion items do not only play on the economic market of physical goods, but also - and sometimes even more importantly - on the semiotic market of the production of social tastes and customs.[18] Thanks to social media, and to all services offered by the so-called web2.0, laypeople can contribute to co-create the fashion world, shaping tastes, customs, and fashion-related values.

Social media in general has catapulted the impact fashion has on our everyday lives and values. Fashion has taken a central role is mass production and is constantly evolving due to the ever-lasting digital transformation.[19]

Social media has also helped evolved to a point where not only can brands reach consumers, but consumers can reach brands as well. TikTok for example started a trend in 2020 with #GucciModelChallenge.[20] This creates a space where the brand is gaining awareness from their consumers in the ever-changing digital age.


Gaming has played an important role in fostering digital aspects of the fashion world, first beginning with dress up games that used avatars and allowed players to select garments. Nevertheless, it seems it will now move on to the real world and start using avatars of real people.[21]

Garments from luxurious brands have been copied and adapted into the aesthetics of games such as the quarantine-released Animal Crossing: New Horizons and The Sims.[22] As to the former, users found themselves filled with time during the COVID-19 confinement and recreated outfits from a great variety of fashion brands, including Chanel, Gucci and Versace. Moreover, it became a platform for users to showcase their costume designs.[23]

In April 2019, Moschino collaborated with simulation game The Sims in a capsule collection that featured signature Jeremy Scott garments.[24] The collection was made available to shop and the campaign was set against the backdrop of a Sims-like atmosphere.[25] Furthermore, in May 2019, Nike partnered up with Fortnite to include their iconic Jordan sneakers. In similar fashion, in May 2020, Marc Jacobs designed 6 of the brand's favorite looks for Nintendo's Animal Crossing: New Horizons in a partnership with Instagram user @AnimalCrossingFashionArchive.[26][27] They were made available to download. Valentino also collaborated with the account and provided 20 looks from the house's SS (Spring/Summer) and F/W (Fall/Winter) 2020 collections.[citation needed]

Similarly the other luxury brands mentioned, Louis Vuitton partnered with game League of Legends to create skins for characters within the game.[28] Digital fashion in various different video games allow users to express themselves beyond their avatar and combine the self-expression of fashion into the digital gaming realm.

Digital fashion education and research[edit]

Nowadays, the fashion industry needs experts in digital fashion, equipped with the above-sketched knowledge and competences. Several Bachelor and Master programs in Fashion have in recent years integrated Digital Fashion courses.[29]

An example is Ravensbourne University's 'Digital Technology for Fashion Pathway,' launching October 2021.[30] This new pathway will offer BA Fashion students the option to specialise in digital fashion with a focus on emerging technologies within this field. The Ravensbourne BA Fashion Class of 2020 paved the way for this new offering by collaborating with the gaming department and launching a digital fashion game live and in partnership with Twitch in July 2020, and featured in Forbes as 'Visionary.'[31]

In 2021, University for the Creative Arts became the first major arts university to launch a new postgraduate higher education degree in Digital Fashion, the first Master's course of its kind in the UK.[32] This new course allows creative researchers to learn how to create garments which are completely free from the material world, and how to fit them digitally to a client – whether they are a model for a virtual catwalk, a social media influencer looking to boost their reach, a gaming avatar in need of a fashion edge or a movie character being given a bespoke costume.[33]

While there are not (yet) dedicated scientific journals devoted to the topic, several research activities have been done in the field. Among them, a dedicated conference has taken place in 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. SComS - Studies in Communication Sciences, a Swiss-based Communication Journal, has published a special thematic section on Fashion communication: Between tradition and digital transformation.[34] In July 2019, a conference titled FACTUM19 - Fashion Communication: between tradition and future digital developments has taken place in Ascona (Switzerland), whose proceedings are published by Springer.[35] During FACTUM19, a document titled "Fashion Communication Research. A way ahead" has been published.[36]

Fashion is closely related with Art and Heritage. Several museums related to fashion have started to make their appearance in the past thirty years. Examples are the Museum Christian Dior Granville, the Museum Cristobal Balenciaga, The Armani Silos, The Museum Audemars Piguet.[37] Among the most important initiatives to digitize fashion history, thus making such heritage available to researchers, practitioners and all interested people, two projects can be mentioned: Europeana Fashion[38] and We Wear Culture[39] by Google Arts and Culture.

The rise of digital fashion during COVID-19[edit]

Since the beginning of the 2020 pandemic, the fashion industry has suffered strong economic losses, as sales plummeted and jobs were lost, but it has since learned to digitally recover through virtual clothing, catwalks, and showrooms.[40]

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, fashion is among the industries that have been forced to adapt their commercial and creative strategies to better suit the social distancing measures.[41] Therefore, the digital channel has since seen a rise in use, offering live shopping and has been highlighted as the only way to overcome physical barriers.[42] It is also believed that these changes will prevail in years to come, as reported by WGSN.[42]

Among these circumstances, new digital fashion houses were born, looking to push the boundaries of design, innovation and sustainability: Tribute Brand, The Fabricant, Auroboros and RTFKT.[43]

Once events only attended by selected people, catwalks and showrooms have become more accessible through live streaming and virtual fashion shows. Thus, they have resulted in high fashion becoming more procurable to the general public. Milan Fashion Week was renamed “Milan Digital Fashion Week”[44] and the New York version prioritized outdoor spaces to further prevent the spread and set the maximum capacity at 50.[45] The British Fashion Council also took upon the opportunity to show this year's designs online.[46] In a historic moment at London Fashion Week 2021, the digital fashion house Auroboros became the first brand to present a solely virtual collection at a major international fashion week.[47] Consequently, many celebrities decided to watch fashion shows that they used to attend front row from the comfort of their own homes and showed their glamorous looks from their Instagram pages.[48]

In 2021, big virtual fashion events are becoming more common. An example of this is the International digital Fashion Week. With this event, there is the largest virtual fashion show being held with over 100 designers in the fashion industry being represented. This has occurred as a result to the COVID-19 pandemic.[49] However, now digital fashion has a chance to thrive in a new technology and fashion fusion industry.

The importance of fashion films has also been stressed as a medium to creatively show designers' upcoming collections. As a result, methods that were only used by digital focused houses such as The Fabricant are expected to become the norm. Therefore, 3D experiences have gained momentum. As a matter of fact, high-profile models such as Bella Hadid have already incorporated such advanced and revolutionary practices into their curriculum, as seen in an Instagram post that displays the star getting a full body 3D scan for a Mugler Spring Summer 2021 film.[citation needed][50] The video shows her in a gold outfit as Pegasus, against the backdrop of a fantasy-filled world.[51]

Other embraced formats include avatar videogames such as Zepeto, which Louboutin partnered up with to showcase their SS21 collection. This way, attendees could create personalized avatars and view the brand's latest designs. On June 15, Balmain also resorted to digital fashion and created a virtual showroom[52][53] hosted by the avatar of creative director Oliver Rousteing, who posted on Instagram his face getting 3D scanned, adding "#future".[citation needed]

Additionally, for their SS21 show, Italian streetwear brand GCDS recreated a 3D runway with cutting-edge technology and avatars that displayed the digitally rendered clothes.[54][55] They even incorporated the celebrity avatars of Dua Lipa, Anwar Hadid, Chiara Ferragni and Fedez, to name a few.[citation needed] They were shown sitting front row in the audience as if it had been a traditional show. It was referred to by the brand as the "first digital front row".[citation needed] The role of avatar influencers such as Lil Miquela and Noonoouri has been emphasized as well and definitely had an impact on the fashion industry during the pandemic, as they encouraged sales with the promotion of fashion brands.[56]

One advantage of the digitalization of fashion is being eco-friendly, as it reduces fabric waste. Opposing beliefs state that clothing is only meant to be worn in real life, and that the process involved with sewing has always been sacred.[57]

The Emergence of the NFT Clothes Industry[edit]

NFTs, unique digital assets that use blockchain technology to verify ownership and provenance, have been embraced by various industries for their ability to create, trade, and tokenize digital content. The NFT clothes industry is a natural extension of this trend, applying the same concept to digital fashion items. As virtual worlds, gaming platforms, and online social spaces become increasingly popular, the demand for customizable digital avatars and unique virtual outfits has grown. NFT clothes cater to this demand, offering users a way to stand out in the digital crowd.[58][citation needed]

The rise of the NFT clothes industry presents both opportunities and challenges for the traditional fashion sector. On the one hand, it allows designers to explore new creative possibilities without the constraints of physical materials and production costs. This opens up the potential for collaborations with digital artists and programmers, paving the way for more innovative designs and a broader audience reach.[59]

The NFT clothes industry can promote sustainability by reducing waste, pollution, and resource consumption associated with physical fashion production.[60][61]

AI and the Fashion Industry[edit]

With the emergence of AI in all creative fields, fashion is not excluded. Ai is being used to create better-selling designs, improve marketing costs, personalization brand and consumer communications, and overall speed up the design and selling processes.[62] According to McKinsey analysis, AI could add $150 billion, and up to $275 billion, to the apparel, fashion, and luxury business sectors operating profits.[63]

AI Fashion Week[edit]

The first AI fashion week will be held in April 2023, showcasing collections from emerging AI designers. Participants will showcase 15-30 works that will be shown online and be judged by the public via online and in-person voting.[64] The AI fashion week's goal is to blend the worlds of physical fashion and digital design. There are fears that AI could limit human creativity and take over designers' jobs; however, at this stage of the AI developments in fashion, human input is still required to refine and edit designs. The AI system produces a fresh perspective on the design process. Designers can input words associated with their collection, and AI assists in creating a moldboard of silhouettes and colors.

Styling through AI[edit]

Companies are turning to AI algorithms, such as ChatGPT, for outfit suggestions. While these algorithms use AI's capability for pattern recognition and can follow a pattern to generate a new suggestion, however it will never work the same way a human stylist works, and understand why one pair of shoes works better than another pair. Algorithms, such as ChatGPT, takes preexisting information from the Internet to provide a suggestion. For example; a Business of Fashion worker told YesPlz's ChatGPT Fashion Stylist they need a class outfit for a formal event, and it suggested three options including: a classic long evening gown paired with a statement necklace and clutch, a modern bold jumpsuit with metallic heels, and a sequin dress in gold or silver.[65] The product recommendations are limited to what the retailer has in its catalogue. The AI Stylist is not fully programmed and released to the public yet, so YesPlz is still working on the issues of limited suggestions, repeated ideas, and providing more imaginative ideas. The AI stylists struggle with creativity and imaginative responses, this is where it is important to consider how the prompt is being phrased. Fashion brand Ssense asked ChatGPT to create an outfit with brands it carried, however, the prompt can become more specific by referencing specific brands or referring to a specific place to wear the outfit. Alorithms and AI sites, like ChatGPT, are becoming smarter and quicker with analyzing information, that it will become the norm of figuring out outfit ideas on a daily basis.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]