Is Digital Fashion the Next Big Thing in the Apparel Industry?

Avatar for Katerina Kadlecova
digital fashion

Ordering clothes online and receiving them immediately – that just might be the future of apparel e-Commerce. How is that possible? Because the clothes you just ordered are digital.

The possibilities in the online world are broadening essentially every day. 20 years ago, your personal online branding was limited to your creative e-mail address and signature. Nowadays you can make use of a wide range of social media and other platforms. On these, you can typically represent yourself using photos of yourself or even digital avatars. Some brands are now taking this to a new level by offering digital outfits. These are either to be photoshopped on photos of the real you or to be used by your virtual avatar. 

Digital fashion: Mainstream vs. influencer-only

Many people involved in the digital fashion industry believe that the concept will become a mainstream hit. However, others are a bit more conservative with their predictions and see digital fashion rather as a tool to innovate the selling process of real clothing.

One potential way of using this technology is influencer marketing. Doing things ‘the old way’ means shipping actual products to influencers. These might not wear the garment for longer than five minutes, which is a major sustainability problem. Influencer seeding is often also challenging due to the limited availability of samples in limited sizes. Neither of these is a concern in the case of digital fashion. Furthermore, presenting digital items can help brands generate buzz around their products long before they are produced. For luxury and niche brands, this also facilitates the usage of on-demand production, which is another big step towards more sustainable production.

Those who believe in mainstream digital fashion see the main benefit in being able to try styles different from your own or the possibility to show off a large number of different outfits in a sustainable way. For many people, social media are the main runway and digital fashion is therefore perfectly capable of satisfying their needs.

Adoption is slow

There has been a lot of attention on digital fashion lately as Farfetch became the first major retailer to make use of it for the purpose of sampling influencers and introducing upcoming launches of major brands. However, most companies are not jumping onto the bandwagon just yet. This is arguable because creating such digital garments is still a relatively new process that requires extra capacities that companies are hesitant to invest in. The future will tell whether the concept will catch on and early adopters will see advantages as consumers increasingly switch to sustainable brands, or digital fashion will remain a niche thing.

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