Posted on: May 24, 2021 Posted by: Jeanette George Comments: 0

The fashion industry has, at its core, stuck to tradition, from embracing the multiple collections per year release cycle to the massive preparations required to stand out at Fashion Week. However, the obsession with social media in recent years has started to change aspects of the industry, such as the newfound preference for leveraging influencers instead of models and choosing digital channels over billboards for advertising. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic forced even more changes in the outdated supply chain and retail system, prompting a battle royale where only brands that innovate can stay relevant and in business over the coming years. 

Fashion must inevitably address its underlying issues, including sustainability and the challenge to market to a new generation of thoughtful shoppers. Industry-wide digitization has been long overdue, but the gears are finally shifting, and brands are starting to move quickly to adapt to the digital economy. 

How The Tech Boom Paved Way For Ecommerce to Grow 

In the ’50s, shoppers looked through physical catalogs to shop ready-to-made items. Flash forward a few years, and the brick-and-mortar retail empire came to life, tempting window shoppers to cave in and make more purchases than necessary. And then the tech boom of the 2010s happened, prompting smartphones to take over the world. Now, about 3.8 billion people––50% of the worldwide population––own a smartphone, a commodity that has reached even the most impoverished corners of the earth. 

Smartphones are the biggest catalysts to revolutionizing the shopping scene because they connect more people than ever through widespread internet access. Whereas in 2008, it would have been impossible for most to purchase goods and services online, 2020 shows a different reality. The e-commerce industry has been growing in an upward trend since its inception, breaching the $4 trillion mark in 2020. Fashion, which has always tempted consumers with flash trends and thousands of new releases per week, has been able to keep a foothold despite the implications of the pandemic––all thanks to the online shopping wave. 

Interacting With Consumers Through New Media Advertising 

Gone are the days when billboards, magazines, and fashion editorials were the most trusted sources of fashion-related information. Nowadays, consumers prefer to listen to fellow consumers through social media platforms, such as Instagram and YouTube. Shoppers post reviews and product try-on(s), scrutinizing every aspect of a company, from shipping to customer service and fabric quality. One bad word from an influential reviewer and cancel culture can remove a brand from circulation. 

As a result, it’s more important than ever for fashion houses to be hyper-aware of their messaging strategy and communicate with clients in the most personal way possible. They did it right in 2020 when Gucci gained massive organic social engagement from Tiktok through supporting its parody, the #GucciModelChallenge. As shoppers evolve in an eco-conscious and online-focused generation, it’s pertinent for even the most revered fashion houses to adjust. Those that did are reaping the rewards of bold, contemporary, and politically correct engagement. 

Fashion Meets Gaming 

Games and fashion are two peas in a pod––two industries that have always been able to symbiotically benefit from each other but never did until recently. Game skins are extremely popular in any game, from Fortnite’s first-person shooter to MapleStory’s 2D side-scrolling MMORPG, prompting players to open random loot boxes for coveted cosmetics; an industry that’s expected to hit $50 billion in revenue by 2022. But what’s more intriguing are virtual items created by renowned fashion houses like Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga. It’s about time someone thought of the collab––they finally did and certainly came through. 

Gucci is the most experienced player in this field, having collaborated with games like The Sims 4 and Roblox with easily accessible luxury fashion garments. In 2020, Balenciaga opened up to the world of gaming with a stunning Afterworld: Age of Tomorrow collab, where players could enjoy the brand’s new collection in-game. 

Louis Vuitton wasn’t going to allow itself to be outplayed, with a crazy League of Legends collab that toppled its predecessors with an online and offline collection. Fans can purchase the clothing line and obtain an in-game trophy travel case and summoner’s cup––both designed by LV, of course. But it’s not just luxury brands joining the gaming scene. Digital NFT fashion marketplace DIGITALAX regularly collaborates with designers and lists single-edition fashion drops and in-game skins for Esports titles, like Among Us. 

These names are experimenting with consumers’ response to virtual clothing, which may play a huge role in tomorrow’s fashion scene. It’s a largely more sustainable way to bring fashion closer to people in an engaging and quickly evolving platform: the metaverse. 

Sustainability Through Digital Fashion 

There’s no doubt that trends move so quickly that the fashion supply chain can barely keep up, compromising the environment in favor of single-use clothing only worn to impress Instagram followers. Fast fashion is a pressing concern, and while sustainability is on the agenda for the entire industry, some brands have taken to a completely different angle. 

Digital fashion has been rising, bringing in an eco-friendly solution to the demand for newness in a social media-driven society. The Fabricant is one such example––a digital fashion house that only sells virtual products. Consumers can purchase anything from an everyday piece to a creative runway-ready garment, which can be edited onto photos. The entire process involves no physical manufacturing or production––just design. It’s a secondary take to virtual fashion: rather than being worn in virtual worlds, these can be worn by real people through photographs. It addresses the desire for newness while elevating creativity by making materials like a liquid silver wearable. Moreover, it’s a direct response to the environmental concern of single-use fashion. 

The digital transformation of the fashion industry is at an all-time high, finally moving to mitigate the long-term issues that have plagued the industry for decades. Brands and consumers can symbiotically benefit from digitization by allowing people to participate in trends and allowing designers to go beyond their creative horizons––all while conserving the world that makes it all possible. 

What do you feel about digital fashion? Do you believe that it can shape the future and address the issues of today’s fashion industry?