The article first appeared on the ELLE.
Picture this: you’re browsing online and a statement jacket suddenly catches your eye. Metallic, with flashes of lime green; it's unlike anything you’ve seen before. After some umming and ahhing, you decide to buy it. Instead of ever seeing it in person, though, you supply a photo of yourself and the same image is then sent back with your newly purchased jacket edited onto you.
Yep, you read that right. You will never touch that jacket, or try it on, but you can wear it 'digitally' and rake in the likes all the same. This might sound like the premise of a Black Mirror episode, but, thanks to Norwegian company Carlings, it's very much a reality.
And as a practice, it's becoming increasingly popular.
In reaction to reports of influencers buying one-off outfits solely for Instagram, Carlings launched its first digital-only collection last November. Titled ‘Neo-Ex’, the collection was inspired by video games like Tekken, and featured a bright yellow crocodile skin coat, blue latex chaps covered in computer code print and a black visor emblazoned with the slogan ‘Eat The Glitch’.
Carlings’ ’Neo-Ex’ digital fashion collection worn by influencers and models
After you purchase an outfit from the 19-piece collection for £9-30, a group of 3D designers will digitally ‘fit’ the look onto a photo of the buyer, ready to post on social media. Kicki Perrson, brand manager at Carlings Sweden, says the response has been overwhelmingly positive and the company plans to drops its second digital-only collection this summer.
'In real life, these types of designer clothes cost thousands of pounds and will usually be worn on social media once because of their distinct design,' says Persson.
'By selling the digital collection at £15 per item, we’ve sort of democratised the economy of the fashion industry and at the same time opened up the world of taking chances with your styling, without leaving a negative carbon footprint.'
Influencer Daria Simonova, who modelled the collection’s puffer jacket and lightning bolt-embellished jeans to her 58k followers, said she would definitely buy more digital clothing in the future.
'I really love this idea because firstly, it’s environmentally-friendly and secondly, clothing nowadays is more like an art form for social media. Digital clothing is super convenient, and the design potential is huge because it’s way cheaper.'
Could virtual luxury fashion ever take off?
It's no secret that our fast fashion habit is causing irreparable damage. The industry contributes more to climate change than the yearly emissions of air travel and sea travel combined. While we should all be aiming to consume less, and recycle more, what if you could buy a look that had zero environmental impact?
The concept might seem outlandish, but the fashion industry is actually late to the party. Gamers have been spending real money for years. As Matthew Drinkwater, head of the Fashion Innovation Agency at London College of Fashion points out, Fortnite fans rack up millions of dollars on skins for their avatars.
'The money being spent on virtual content in the gaming industry is huge,' explains Drinkwater, 'and the fashion industry is only just beginning to realise that there might be an opportunity there.'
One such brand is Moschino, who recently launched a Sims-inspired capsule collection complete with green diamond-printed swimsuits. The launch was also accompanied by the release of a virtual version of the capsule’s Freezer Bunny hoodie for all of the current Sims titles, so that your Sims can be kitted out in Moschino too.
Read the full article on the ELLE.