Virtual fashion is rapidly becoming a career option for young fashion designers
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Paper, scissors and crayons were all I needed to create a wardrobe.
As a little girl, I would spend hours making paper dresses for my little cut-out doll I’d get in a special book. Even though she would come with her own fancy dresses that I could simply cut out on use, the best part was making my own 2D outfits for her.
Those fragile paper outfits were my prized possession until my Barbie came along.
While other girls were quite content to rotate the few outfits that came with their Barbie dolls and happily swapped clothes with their friends, I needed more. My Barbie only wore couture. Gerry couture. Even if the little outfits were completely non-functional and held together by a single clumsy thread, it was a one-of-a-kind piece. A work of art.
My youngest daughter has the same fascination with fashion, as do many other little girls her age, and playing dress-up with her dolls and creating her own outfits.
However, she doesn’t have to pick up a scissors or thread a needle to create an extensive wardrobe for her many dolls.
She doesn’t have to physically create little outfits because her fashion doll isn’t physical.
Her virtual dress-up doll lives in its very own digital world, custom-designed by her owner. My daughter gets to create the most incredible outfits from start to finish by simply scrolling and selecting. From the type and colour of the fabric to the design and every little detail from what type of buttons she wants to use to the placement of every jewel, the options are endless.
Her virtual doll has an extensive wardrobe.
Never mind the fact that she customises her doll. From the skin tone to the type of hair.
She might not be able to physically hold her “doll” but she is very proud of her creation that exists on her tablet.
Besides the obvious fashion, dress-up games available, there are characters on other games like Minecraft where she gets to create. A representation of herself. Her avatar.
Now I might not always understand how games like Minecraft and Roblox works, but I am fascinated by these creations.
Of course, there are many other, more advanced, popular games like Fortnite and League of Legends, where the gamers can customise the looks of their characters.
To the child innocently putting these looks together for the dolls and the gamers creating avatars, this is merely a fun part of their virtual worlds.
But what they don’t give any thought to is the behind the scenes working of these activities.
All the looks are carefully designed by actual fashion designers.
Designers who have stepped into the virtual world. Designing garments that cannot be touched or worn yet clothe millions of “bodies” all the same.
Luxury fashion brands like Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton have started to dabble in the virtual world of fashion through gaming.
In 2019, Louis Vuitton collaborated with the popular multiplayer online video game, League of Legends, to create a collection of vibrant skins that characters were able to sport throughout the game.
Balenciaga launched their autumn 2021 collection through an immersive video game – Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow. The game invited players to experience a futuristic world, simultaneously exploring the autumn collection dawned by 50 volumetric character models.
This year Gucci partnered with gaming platform Roblox to curate a virtual garden in which players could discover and purchase digital collectable Gucci garments and accessories, with many digital pieces selling for more than their physical counterparts.
But digital fashion is more than an existing brand collaborating with online games, it’s rapidly becoming a career option for young fashion designers.
According to Fashion United, Leslie Holden, co-founder of The Digital Fashion Group, believes in the potential of merging fashion and gaming as a career path for young designers saying: “In the UK alone there are around 5 000 fashion design graduates each year, with limited opportunities for employment.
“I see the Metaverse as opening up new marketplaces, new opportunities, and new occupations for creatives in fashion. We are desperately needing to ensure that there is less waste of fashion talent and the Metaverse can supply the answer to a lack of opportunity in the traditional fashion industry”.
For designers entering this sphere, there are no limits to what they can create due to the lack of physical constraints.
Daniella Loftus, the founder of This Outfit Does Not Exist, comments: “In the physical world, I might wear an avant-garde dress, but it is tied to my physical form. I've been born with a set of determined biological characteristics. In the virtual world, your avatar is constructed by you, it can look how you want it to, it can express anything that you feel needs to be expressed”.