The fashion world has changed dramatically in the last few years. The rise of new digital and immersive technologies, mixed with an increasing awareness of the need for sustainable practices, has led to a decline in interest in traditional clothing.
The emergence of new marketplaces has created alternative customer experiences for shoppers who look to enhance their virtual persona.
In this article, we explore the top digital-only fashion houses and marketplaces trying to change the game!
What is a digital fashion house?
A digital fashion house is a fashion design company that produces digital-only garments instead of physical ones.
These design houses cater to forward-minded people who believe that clothing and accessories don’t always have to exist physically.
Like any other fashion company, digital fashion houses make their products available to the public through marketplaces.
Typically, digital fashion is sold in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). But not every digital fashion house sells NFTs — many digital designers have garments that you can buy online and get fitted to your photos.
How do digital fashion marketplaces work?
Digital fashion marketplaces are sites where you can acquire digital garments and accessories.
They usually function like any other e-commerce site — you can browse items, select the one you love, and pay for it — but the product you get is not physical. You acquire a digital good that can only be used in virtual worlds like social media, video games, or VR platforms.
In short, what you get from these marketplaces are just pixels. But people have been doing this for years now, for example, when getting skins for video games.
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Among the existing marketplaces, we can identify two types: The ones based on blockchain — and thus selling NFTs — and the ones that are not.
But, even though not all digital-fashion items are NFTs, they all have something in common: they only exist in the digital space.
In the following sections, we will cover the particularities of each marketplace and how each one works specifically.
Top digital fashion marketplaces
DressX is one of the most prominent digital fashion marketplaces that carry digital clothing collections from the most well-known contemporary brands. The company is based in California and was launched in August 2020. DressX aims to show that some clothes can exist only in their digital versions.
As it can be read in their mission statement, the founders of DressX believe the amount of clothing produced globally is more than any human needs and that there are ways to make fashion more sustainably or not produce it at all.
How does Dress-X work?
DressX works similarly to any fashion e-commerce site. The difference is that when you buy an item, you need to provide a picture, and a team of expert 3D engineers will fit the digital garments on you and return the photo of you (or the person in the picture) “wearing” them.
In short, what you buy from DressX are photo looks that can be defined as custom-fitted digital looks. They usually take 24 hours to deliver, and the result is Instagram-ready!
DressX has recently launched its app, which allows you to try on virtual garments with AR before you commit to buying a photo look.
To take their concept to the next level, DressX has partnered with Crypto.com, a leading NFT marketplace, to ensure purchasing and trading digitally wearable clothing is a seamless transaction. So, we might be able to acquire NFTs through DressX soon!
XR couture is an international digital fashion collection platform. It was founded in 2020, also influenced by the challenging times of the pandemic. Subham Jain, the founder, wanted to help eliminate some of the waste produced by the fashion industry by leveraging the power of technology.
Jain was also highly motivated to start his venture because he realized that, given the global situation, influencers could not create new, exciting content.
XR couture collaborates with a pool of multidisciplinary digital artists and designers to provide a platform where they can create and at the same time align with their sustainability values.
How does XR couture works?
XR couture is straightforward to use. Similar to DressX, clients get an image with virtually fitted hyper-real fashion garments of their selection. For now, you cannot buy NFTs at their store.
A great feature of the XR couture marketplace is that you can upload different photos for the same order. Then, the experts will select the best fitting for the garment you specified, which is helpful because it’s pretty difficult to predict how the digital clothing will look on your photo.
Since the process of digitally fitting a garment onto a person is still artistic and manual, you also can choose the artist that will work on your photo for an extra free. XR also allows you to have the outfit you buy in your five different colors. How cool is that?
XR couture is an excellent platform for starters on digital fashion because they have pretty affordable prices.
Tribute, a Croatian-based digital fashion house, was founded in 2020. They’re a high-end digital fashion brand leading the way in “contactless and cyber fashion.” Their collective is formed out of members having a previous background in fashion, CGI 3D modeling, UX design, and coding.
Also founded during the pandemic, Tribute wanted to give everyone a chance to be in fashion, but in a contactless way. Their main goal is to provide garments with no waste, no shipping, and gender or size restrictions.
How does Tribute work?
When buying from Tribute, the customers receive CGI images of themselves wearing the desired cyber garment. Even though you cannot buy NFTs at Tribute, customers also receive a digital certificate of authenticity as proof of owning the digital product.
Most garments are limited to 100 uploads, which means they will be sold out after that number is reached, and they won’t be restocked. The concept creates scarcity, which is relevant to keep the garment’s sense of value.
When you buy an item, you can send multiple photos and let the experts choose which one works the best. It’s also possible to combine and fit various products from the same order on the image. Tribute’s delivery time is 1-5 working days.
They also offer custom orders. For example, if anyone has an idea for a digital garment or wants something physical transferred into the digital world, they can create it.
The Dematerialised is an experiential marketplace specifically focused on fashion NFTs. It is powered by Lukso, a blockchain for a new digital lifestyle.
This innovative platform nurtures the emerging digital fashion ecosystem by providing viable revenue streams with a web3 marketplace for authenticated virtual goods.
The underlying goal of their approach is to eventually challenge the traditional fashion business models of production and consumption to make them more transparent and equitable.
Many of the most prominent digital fashion houses release their drop collections in The Dematerialised so that you can find rare and unique NFTs.
The Dematerialised is often the platform of choice of luxury fashion houses. For example, Karl Lagerfeld launched his first NFT collectible in The Dematerialised, marking the design house’s first exploration into blockchain technology.
How does The Dematerialised work?
Usually, the different fashion houses create drop collections that they make available in The Dematerialised platform. In the case of NFTs, the number of items available is typically limited — just like with physical goods.
Once you buy an NFT, you can do many things with it, like “wearing” it (fitting it on images), using it in VR platforms, and even re-selling it. That’s the magic of NFTs.
You don’t need a crypto wallet to buy NFTs at The Dematerialised because they use Universal Profile, part of the Lukso blockchain infrastructure. You just need to set up a profile linked to your account, and this is where your NFTs will be safely stored.
You can pay for your digital asset with regular cash or with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Founded in 2020 in California, Digitalax is much more than a marketplace for digital goods. They are building the first Digital Fashion Operating System. Their web3 architecture will eventually allow taking digital fashion into gaming, VR, and other 3D environments.
The platform is open-source and will enable consumers and creators to transparently own, wear and trade their virtual fashion in different environments.
Digitalax leverages a three-layered approach that consists of the following:
- A digital fashion content supply chain built on Ethereum that uses NFTs as a distribution channel.
- An intercommunication protocol between 3D digital fashion applications and game engines.
- A digital ecosystem that brings digital fashion across all industries and platforms.
The company wants to make it easy for people to find and collect fashion NTFs made by a network of exceptional designers and brands.
Their motivation is that they realized the main problem with digital fashion is that it has been primarily focused on the cosmetic side, without an active application of usage outside of the typical social media sharing.
Digital fashion hasn’t been yet crafted to allow people to interact with it and experience physical clothing, and that’s what Digitalax aims to change.
How does Digitalax work?
As a marketplace, Digitalax is not very different from The Dematerialised. You can find designs made by their global designer network, and all NFTs you acquire are backed by the 3D file.
When you acquire digital fashion through Digitalax, you get the graphic, Dress-X try-on, material component, and a decentraland skin.
Top digital fashion houses
Headquartered in Amsterdam, The Fabricant produces hyper-realistic digital fashion experiences. The Fabricant launched in 2018, so it was one of the first players in the digital-only fashion production and fashion NFTs trading. In 2019, The Fabricant sold a dress in the blockchain for 9,500 US dollars.
Their mantra is, “we waste nothing but data and exploit nothing but our imagination.” They also believe that blockchain enables a more democratic, connected, and valuable way of creating fashion experiences, and NFTs are the starting point for achieving it.
The Fabricant focuses on high-dollar couture. The company employs classically-trained fashion designers who work in a “digital atelier” to design, drape, and code each garment.
The Fabricant constantly creates drop collections, which they make available through several blockchain marketplaces such as The dematerialised, Binance, Star Atlas, Nifty Gateway, and Async art.
The drops show The Fabricant’s most creative side, and they can be integrated into multiple technologies such as AR or gaming engines.
Despite being a high-end digital fashion house, The Fabricant puts an essential focus on making the design process available to anyone eager to learn their craft. Tangible proof of that is their FFROPs (free file drops) which are free to download for anyone who wants to use these files for their creations.
The Fabricant also hosts multiple free training sessions for aspiring digital artists and designers, stating that they want to foster a culture of sharing and inclusivity in fashion.
Based in London, Auroboros is a digital fashion house that merges science and technology with physical haute couture. It’s housed within the Sarabande Foundation – the charitable foundation set up by Lee Alexander McQueen.
Auroboros is known for its incredible attention to detail and extraordinary design. Auroboros became the first-ever brand to present its purely digital collection at London Fashion Week.
With its breathtaking nature-inspired design, Auroboros inaugural Biomimicry Digital Collection creates a new category of digital couture, “NatureTech,” allowing everyone to immerse themselves in the utopian world of Auroboros fully.
The 14-piece Biomimicry Collection, shown at LFW, is sold on their website, fashion game Drest, and digital fashion marketplace Dress-X for between £100-450.
The designs are unique from the visual standpoint and the technical. Using the visual language of nature and speaking this language with the tech tools and software makes Auroboros so different.
Fast fashion is a significant contributor to the environmental impact of our clothing. Digital fashion can help reduce this problem by allowing consumers to buy fewer physical clothes and focus more on making what they have last longer.
The rise in popularity of NFTs could be another way to see an increase in sustainable customer practices as they feel more confident in acquiring digital goods. In short, these new technologies are set to change how we interact with both physical and virtual products alike!
What do you think? Would you be willing to invest in something that doesn’t exist? In this article, we share a few good reasons to do it.