The fashion world is all about pushing the boundaries. Pioneers in this space have been known for attempting to redefine what it means to be beautiful, fashionable, or on trend- it’s not about being conventionally attractive. It’s about capturing people’s attention. Extended reality is becoming a very popular tool in the fashion and beauty industries today. It’s changing the way that consumers interact with products, the way brands advertise them, and most notably, the mediums we traditionally attribute to fashion.
Designer brands like Suzanne Harward and Louis Vuitton are experimenting with virtual shopping experiences. The Australian wedding gown brand Suzanna Harward allows customers to view their couture collection in an AR environment, on life-size models. They are able to walk around it, get close and look at details, and ultimately make an informed decision, all from their own home. This allowed the Australian designer to reach audiences across the world- because wedding dress shopping is such an involved process, customers usually just go to shops that are local to them (Inhaabit.com). Louis Vuitton has applied XR in a more artistic way in their collaboration with the NBA in a virtual experience displaying a men’s wear capsule by the late Virgil Abloh. The viewer is placed in Madison Square Garden, surrounded by colorful models dressed in Abloh’s pieces. Louis Vuitton reimagined the basketball court as a catwalk, filling it with brand motifs and beautiful, intricate designs that a viewer would traditionally never be able to see up close if they were watching an actual runway show (WWD).
There are several brands that are looking to change how we define fashion. Traditionally, the world has treated clothing and fashion as synonymous terms: fashion is the design of clothing, clothing is the physical representation of “fashion”. But, at its core, fashion is just a form of self-expression through dress. It is art that you can wear. This does not mean that it necessarily has to exist in the physical world. Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this. Burberry recently started working on its first line of NFT clothing with Blankos Block Party, as a way to reach younger consumers, who are focused on gaming, online personas, and digital purchasing channels (Glossy.co). Gamers are able to purchase Burberry outfits/ skins for their video game characters that are uniquely theirs, authenticated through a private EOSIO blockchain protocol. Smaller brands like The Dematerialized sell clothing for “screenwear”. This refers to clothing that can only be worn digitally, like on video chat or in an instagram picture.
Really, it makes a lot of sense that fashion is heading in this direction. As Facebook never ceases to remind us, the world is paying more and more attention to the idea of digital personas. Our digital personas aren’t exactly a part of us, more like a representation of ourselves in the digital world. People realize that they can be whoever they want online, and, accordingly, want more control over how they can present themselves in this proclaimed “Metaverse”. They want to put their best digital selves forward. So, you can own a physical luxury clothing item, but you can also wear a digital Burberry or Louis Vuitton shirt on Instagram and Snapchat for a fraction of the price.