Fashion & Tech

'...there are no physical limitation of materials or geological location. For example a virtual dress can be created with fire or water, garments can even embody a variety of art forms at once such as music and sculpture. The endless possibilities of the digital world (AKA the metaverse) have allowed designers to think beyond the boundaries of reality'.

The Metaverse and NFT'S: an answer for over-production?

Friday 17th Dec

Will the metaverse and NFT’s be the future of fashion, an answer to over-production and the waste crisis within the industry? 

 

An NFT (non-fungible token) can be anything digital such as drawing or piece of music. The recent excitement around NFT’s comes for their creator control. NFT blockchain technology is designed to give its owner/creator complete control, meaning that that the work cannot be replicated or forged. It also includes a feature that pays the creator a percentage every time the work is sold. As you can imagine, this has become highly lucrative in the art world. 

 

Exclusivity? Yes, fashion has jumped on it. Brands have been known to create a sense of sacristy in order to increase the value of their garments. The entire luxury sector is based on desirability and rarity, so the opportunity to create something this unique is attractive. In contrast, by creating an item that is digital it too can be infinitely scalable - giving the brands ability to create unlimited copies. Another benefit of digital designing is that there are no physical limitation of materials or geological location. For example a virtual dress can be created with fire or water, garments can even embody a variety of art forms at once such as music and sculpture. The endless possibilities of the digital world (AKA the metaverse) have allowed designers to think beyond the boundaries of reality.

 

Moving from physical clothing to virtual clothing could save a lot of waste. The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global water wastage (the farming and processing of natural fibres require vast amounts of water for growing, cleaning and dyeing). Textile waste is also created during the garment assembly stage. ‘Pre-consumer waste is all leftover materials from clothing production throughout the supply chain….

 

Fabric waste: anything from cutting room floor offcuts to damaged rolls of fabric, end of rolls and other preproduction leftovers.

 

Clothing waste: such as dead stock (that’s unsold garments), damaged runs (clothing that is considered defected at production level), and cancelled orders (brands will always order 10 per cent extra, in case the item is successful and store stock needs to be replenished quickly)…’ Loved Clothes Last, Orsola de Castro.

Tech is already a huge part of how the fashion industry operates. Today our first point of contact with an item is usually digital, an image or video through Instagram (itself part of the metaverse). But does this mean clothes that only exist virtually will become the norm? Here’s a few points on the draw backs of virtual fashion.

 

  • Blurring the lines between physical and virtual worlds could lead to a dangerous view on reality. It’s evident that some people already hold their online profiles at higher value than their real lives.

  • Accessibility/digital poverty and inequality. “The inability to interact with the online world fully, when where and how an individual needs to“ Digital Poverty Alliance.

  • Currently buying an NFT is kind of complicated if you’re not already in the tech world… passwords, digital wallets, crypto-currencies.

  • Data bias. Most of the tech industry has been built with a data bias; a reason why AI facial recognition confuses any face that isn’t white. An industry where women and POC’s are massively under-represented. Has the metaverse been designed by tech bros for the tech bros? I learnt about this in Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez.

  • Cost energy and resources of designing for the digital space. There’s actually not much research on this but imma find something.