Trend Bite: Digital Design

Scandinavian retailer Carlings‘ digital clothing collection

In these uncertain times there is one thing that all of us have relied on more than anything: digital connection, specifically through social media. As we entered the “Coronavirus Era,” terminology such as “social distancing” and “mitigation” suddenly became part of our daily vocabulary, resulting in us moving more and more of our lives online than ever before. 

This is the first major pandemic to occur in the age of social media and through distancing physically, we have grown closer to our online communities for safer connectivity with those we love. But we are also seeing people of all ages logging on for entertainment, for creative expression, for fitness and mental health and for education, information and discovery. MIT and the WHO have even named the Novel Coronavirus the first true social media “infodemic” based on the rapid spread and overabundance of information available online and circulating through social networking sites. 

Even before the whole world was thrown into a panic, we experienced the advent of new technologies and social networks giving a rise to a new era of online influencers and brands that are blurring the line between the physical and digital worlds. There is no doubt that this has suddenly become more crucial than ever. 

Instagram has become a virtual runway where clothing is content. In February, Armani was one of the first to show its FW20 collection in a completely empty theater in Milan, while viewers from all over the world tuned into an online live stream. Something that was done out of Corona-induced necessity is set to become our new normal; Hong Kong-based designer Anaïs Mak resorted to technology to showcase the latest collection for her label Anaïs Jourden. With the ongoing impact of COVID-19 as well as the citywide protests that took place for more than six months in 2019, the designer kept to the Paris Fashion Week schedule by projecting a simulated show with virtual models and digital renderings onto a large screen. 

Technological advances have also enabled clothes to exist purely for social media. As people live and flex more of their lives online, coupled with growing concerns about sustainability, digital clothing is fast becoming a reality for fashion. Gen-Z, who are the main cohort of this movement, are true digital natives: from earliest youth, they have been exposed to the internet, to social networks, and to online life. That context has produced a hyper-cognitive generation that are living out hybrid identities that integrate virtual and offline experiences using this digital medium as a major form of self-expression. This new form of artistic expression is not only earning them enormous followings, but it is shifting the aesthetic of fashion in the process. 

Designers are exploring the future of digital fashion by producing photorealistic, 3D designed, digital-only clothing collections, and customers are buying in. The Scandinavian retailer Carlings sold out of a digital clothing collection in a week, while Yang Li presented his recent LFW collection via 3D-rendered technology. The concept might seem outlandish, but gamers have been spending real money on digital ‘skins’ for years. 

And what’s the natural next step in this digital movement? American brand Tommy Hilfiger has begun to recognize the value technology can hold for the entire fashion sampling process: “For our Fall 2020 season, our men’s dress shirts will be 100-percent 3D-designed and require no sample production; the difference will be almost indistinguishable from styles designed and presented historically. This is the future,” says Global and PVH Europe CEO Daniel Grieder. 

So, as the lines between online and offline blur, the impact digital design can have on our fashion system as well as our day to day lives is becoming tangible.

Kingpins’ Trend Bites are created by Denim Dudes to give you a small taste of the full denim trend report they have prepared for the season. Interested in purchasing the full report? Visit Kingpins Trend page.

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