News & Events > DIGITAL FASHION: What can we study to move towards the future?

March 4th, 2022

DIGITAL FASHION: What can we study to move towards the future?

By Florencia De Maio

Imagine digital humans wearing virtual clothes in a technological space called the metaverse… This is the new emerging digital landscape, increasingly present in the fashion world. What can we study to move towards the future?

The concept of digital fashion, along with the notion of the metaverse, what we understand as a collective virtual space, has changed from being a sci-fi imaginary, to being an omnipresent term in debates about the future. Mark Zuckerberg, for example, claims that in this new digital landscape, we will all have little substitutes for ourselves: we will have virtual jobs, we will attend virtual social events and, of course, we will wear virtual clothes. In this emerging technological landscape… What is the role of fashion, art and design education?

METAVERSE

Composed of the prefix “meta” (beyond) and “universe”, to understand this concept we must literally locate ourselves beyond the universe, on the hybridity between the digital and the real world. Thus, the so-called metaverse marks a new way of being: living together between reality itself and a surreal virtual layer that will allow us to navigate infinite digital worlds.

This billion-dollar industry will continue growing, aligned with the intellectual and philosophical movement called transhumanism, which broadly speaking argues that human life could be immortalized through its fusion with technology. Although this still sounds somewhat utopian, we cannot deny the advent of an extreme collision between the physical and the virtual, which is already manifesting itself in our daily lives. The emergence of the metaverse is evident: at the recent British Fashion Awards, there was a new award category called Metaverse Design; WGSN and Coloro featured digital lavender as the key color of 2023: “set to converge in our virtual and physical worlds, as the metaverse matures”…

Illustration and Design courses that will bring you closer to the metaverse: 

  • BA (Hons) Fashion Imaging and Illustration – London College of Fashion – 3 years

Recognize the changing role of visual communication within the fashion industry. Innovative and multidisciplinary creators of images. Original thinkers.

  • Multimedia Arts – Istituto Marangoni Firenze – 3 years

Formation of a multimedia artist focused on audiovisual languages and the potential of new digital technological scenarios.

CGI INFLUENCERS

Created by experts in technology and design, the so-called CGI (computer-generated imagery) Influencers act like humans, they even have a defined vision of the world, but only exist in a digital stage. Thus, these hyper-realistic looking virtual influencers completely blur the line between what is real and what is fake. They can be found on Instagram, such as @noonoouri, or at virtualhumans.org

Taking the case of Prada as an example to understand how the fashion industry capitalizes on the potential of CGI Influencers, we can observe that last November they announced the creation of their first virtual “muse” to relaunch the Prada Candy fragrance. This is not the first time that the brand has escaped from the traditional celebrity-based marketing strategy. At the Milan Fashion Week 2018, Lil Miquela, one of the most famous virtual influencers in the world, not only attended the Prada show, but also uploaded backstage videos and preview images of the collection. This was one of the first eye-opening experiences for the industry, where the real and the digital collided through a virtual human being.

Fashion Business courses that will get you to the future:

  • Master in Fashion E-Business and Digital Transformation – Istituto Marangoni Firenze – 9 months

Innovative scientific approach applied to fashion and luxury and the discovery of the most advanced digital strategies and tools

  • Postgraduate course in Design of Digital Strategies and Products with Artificial Intelligence – IED Spain – 2 months

Explore the conceptual, creative and quantitative facets of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Understand the aspects that shape an AI-assisted digital product.

VIRTUAL FASHION

Those humans who owe their existence to virtuality, logically wear garments that only exist digitally. This is what many call digital fashion. “Technology tends to grow exponentially, and our virtual presence will too. Someone has to dress these new people” says Gala Marija Vrbanic, a leader in this emerging field, in her Ted Talk called nothing less than “The new reality of fashion is digital.”

Amber Slooten, co-founder and creative director of The Fabricant, describes her brand as “the world’s first digital fashion house”. In 2019, they sold the first digital dress for US$9,500 at an auction, which marked a watershed in the industry. Today, virtual garments have already become a frequent item on the market. For example, Nike, which recently acquired a company that makes virtual footwear; or Balenciaga, which granted an exclusive business unit for the metaverse and presented its Fall 2021 collection through Afterworld, a video game with a digital catwalk.

The notion of digitally customizing one’s appearance arose from the use of different “skins” that video game players use to enhance their avatars, creating a sense of self-expression. Therefore, fashion has become a crucial ally for the gaming world. Take for instance the Gucci case, the brand has partnered with games like The Sims, Roblox, Pokémon Go and Animal Crossing to create clothing for digital avatars; eventually releasing its own game called Gucci Grip. The digital fashion industry is experiencing exponential growth. Last September, the first Meta Gala, inspired by the traditional Met Gala, was held during Crypto Fashion Week (CFW). This was an elite virtual party that, according to its organizers, was “a celebration of digital fashion in the metaverse.”

Gaming courses available:

  • MA Games Design – London College of Communication – 1 year and 3 months

Development of technical and critical skills to produce innovative game prototypes, exploring experiences beyond the screen.

  • B.A. in digital media – Savannah College of Art and Design – 180 hours

Unite art and technology with interactive design and video game development to transform digital media. Gaming competitions.

  • VR Game Design – New York Film Academy – 8-Week

Practice with the tools used to create interactive virtual experiences and ultimately design your own interactive virtual reality environment.

Currently, most study programmes take into account this new digital reality that challenges us transversally as humanity. Simona Ironico, leader of the Fashion Business program at the Istituto Marangoni in Milan, told FAD that: “All the courses are observing these changes and working in that direction. For example, in the Fashion Styling course, the topic of virtual influencers is extremely important, as is the creation of digital outfits and collections for video games in the Fashion Design course… In Fashion Business, all knowledge about technology is a priority.”

The topics mentioned are manifesting themselves as a great transcendental cultural movement, decisive for corporations and for the future (already present) of consumption. Undoubtedly, there are still unexplored territories to be traced in this expanding industry, consequently multidisciplinarity is a key factor for its growth. At FAD Connection we want to help you determine a program that suits your interests, your point of view, your professional stage and your goals. From business to technical development, from storytelling to 3D illustration, from an 8-week course to a master’s degree; the training and performance possibilities are endless.

For further information please contact FAD Connection ask@fadconnection.com