The Metaverse Could Radically Reshape Fashion

The Metaverse Could Radically Reshape Fashion

The Metaverse Could Radically Reshape Fashion

By Rosalind Jana

Garments that dissolve in water, change color, or sprout wings could thrive in Web3—and inspire a new era of design IRL.

IN 2020, LONDON-BASED fashion designer Scarlett Yang created a garment that looked like glass, changed texture in response to temperature and weather, and dissolved if you left it in water. This wasn’t a sci-fi fever dream or magic trick, but a design made possible by modern technology. Yang’s clothing was made from algae extract, which formed an intricate, leathery lace when cast in custom-made 3D molds before being treated with silk cocoon protein. To bring this impossible-looking creation to life, Yang began by experimenting with virtual designs: using software to run through various silhouettes and simulations before she got to the stage of making it. To showcase the startling results, she turned back to her screen. She had made a physical dress, but she also presented it in digital format, inviting viewers to observe four different renders of the angular, shimmering gown as it slowly plunged into the ocean.

“I’m super passionate about combining these elements of science, digital tech, and visual fashion,” Yang explains. Like a growing number of designers, this interest means moving fluidly between the worlds of virtual design and physical manufacturing. Sometimes she designs clothes that could never actually exist. “There’s more creative freedom in the digital [realm], there’s no constraints, no gravity,” she says. At other points, she switches back and forth, bouncing designs from the virtual to the actual to figure out some of the trickier logistics of, say, bringing a translucent, biodegradable gown to life.

Yang was among the designers who recently participated in the first Metaverse Fashion Week. Unlike fashion week as we normally know it—a sensory overload of bustling crowds, eye-catching outfits, and sought-after invites—this took place in a virtual-world, browser-based platform called Decentraland. Anyone with a computer could join, sending their avatar to jerkily wander through shopping malls and catch shows from brands including Etro, Tommy Hilfiger, and Roberto Cavalli. Yang’s contribution was a series of virtual “skins” in collaboration with contemporary artist Krista Kim and Amsterdam-based digital fashion house the Fabricant, featuring materials delicate as dragonfly wings.

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By | April 27, 2022