Even before the pandemic, there has been a trend in the adoption of digital solutions across different fields and disciplines. We saw how open-source creative archives have been developed in the field of literature, and how seamless online banking and cryptocurrency systems took off. We even witnessed a revitalization of space exploration, thanks to the efforts of both public and private actors such as NASA and SpaceX.
In the fashion world, we saw a glimpse of the upcoming changes as the Swedish Fashion Council cancelled Stockholm Fashion Week in order to allow space for the production of a fashion show that had a different concept.
Then, the global pandemic came during the first quarter of 2020 and brought literally everything to a halt. Everyone became stuck inside the four corners of their respective homes, and without a doubt, the fashion sector entered a global state of emergency as they try to scramble for the best response to this unprecedented crisis.
The Met Gala, which is considered to be a reliable barometer in the fashion world due to the fashion designs being presented and the people who wear them, was cancelled. On top of this, certain mainstays of the entertainment industry such as the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice International Film Festival have either been scrapped or reduced in scope, ensuring that the fashion industry had fewer chances to exhibit their crafts physically.
In the regimented calendar of the fashion world, this meant that all the things that they have planned for the year 2020 went out the window. Coupled with the tightened movement and travel restrictions as well as a general cancellation of mass events worldwide, the fashion industry had to accelerate whatever concepts it had when it came to producing and promoting digital fashion events.
Thus, it can be said that the pandemic is the main catalyst that made fashion houses worldwide embrace the concept of digital fashion shows. Helsinki, London, Paris, Japan and Italy have all done different varieties of their own digital fashion weeks in 2020, ensuring that physical safety, general sustainability, maximum participation, and better appreciation of the fashion world are all met satisfactorily, even within the constraints of the time.
To better appreciate of the extent of the digital fashion week, let’s witness it through the lens of a single event: In Russia, the organizers of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Moscow event back in 2020executed a three-pronged strategy that ensured that hundreds of thousands of people would be able to participate in the event – even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, they live-streamed their webinars and presentations through VK, Facebook, and TikTok, thus ensuring that they reach at least half a million people by the end of the first day. Second, they utilized virtual influencers who donned digital clothing, putting an emphasis on mindful consumption, ecological sustainability, and ethical worldwide. Finally, they rode the participative power of social media through their “home challenges” on TikTok, ensuring that viewers do not just go away from the program with the basic know-how to produce their own fashion in a sustainable and intuitive way (i.e. online brand promotion, creation of digital outfits, finding fashion deals online, and ways to be trendy using what’s available), but also the opportunity to pitch their ideas of individual home clothing styles in short videos on the social media platform.
Needless to say, the Russian strategy proved really effective to the point that many fashion stakeholders worldwide have taken notice of it, and they even ramped up their game with a showcase of new collections along with virtual fashion lines through their Global Talents Digital program. Needless to say, the Russian Fashion Council and the Russian fashion community at large are planning to exhibit Digitalax through the use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies.
After all, with better visibility, participation, and interaction comes more sales and profits. It’s a feasible win-win solution for the organizers, fashion houses, spectators, and other stakeholders involved.
With just one example, we can clearly see how digital fashion shows are reshaping how we see fashion in the 21st century. We used to think of haute couture and seasonal collections when it comes to fashion; now, we are seeing a complete redrawing of the lines as fashion outlets realize that they need to engage with the world at large through the use of existing and emerging if they are to get a solid foothold in the fashion spaces of the future.
An additional possibility that may emerge is the usage (and eventually, widespread adoption and standardization) of NFT-based digital fashion platforms such as Digitalax that do not just allow fashion designers of all stripes to easily create their art, but also enable them to gain sustainable, consistent, and profitable value from the fashion lines that they create.
Since NFT-based digital fashion items are verified and backed by a major blockchain with a smart contract functionality such as Ethereum, not only do fashion brands gain the ability to open up creative designs that are unique, but at the same time give them a way to integrate their brands into completely digital domains such as gaming, social media, and so on.
To put it bluntly, even in the current state of things today (in which most fashion brands do not have existing collaborations with gaming titles and maximum internet penetration is yet to be achieved), digital fashion in the form of in-game cosmetics already earn gaming publishers billions of dollars in profit on a single year.
Honestly, we are already witnessing how the future of the fashion week would look like: It’s going to be virtual, interactive, immersive, and collaborative all at once, with the added possibility of fashion becoming more open and democratic as time goes by.
We do not need to wait for the future to watch fashion go digital. It is here now, and as more fashion brands embrace this concept, we will see the fashion industry undergo a major reset that will allow it to embrace a more democratic, sustainable, and responsible future.