Pixels Instead Of Textiles: What Is The Big Deal With Digital Fashion?

With the accelerated advancement of technology and digital platforms, you may have heard about an upcoming trend that’s been sweeping around the media: digital fashion. Yet, you might still be wondering, what’s the point of digital fashion?

The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters globally, contributing to climate change and other environmental problems.

The good news? There’s an alternative that can help you stand out while helping protect our planet, and that’s digital fashion. It uses 3D technology to create unique designs that only exist in pixels on a screen. Digital fashion designers use their creativity to model innovative styles, allowing consumers to wear something different daily without harming the environment with excess clothing waste.

If you’re still wondering why all of this is important, you’re in the right place. In this article, we will answer that and other questions related to digital fashion.

What is digital fashion?

Digital fashion refers to garments and accessories that only exist digitally instead of physically. Therefore, a digital garment is a piece that we can only wear on virtual platforms such as social media or video games. In this sense, digital fashion is a way for people to express themselves through their clothes without wearing them!

DressX digital fashion marketplace
DressX is one of the first digital fashion marketplaces.

Digital fashion may also take part in physical fashion design. The designers create the garments virtually in 3D before physically manufacturing them, which has several advantages that we will see later in this article.

​​Why is digital fashion important?

There are several reasons why digital fashion is relevant. Here are the four most important ones.

1. Digital fashion reduces the consumption of one-time use clothing.

We live in a virtual world more than ever before, and having a digital persona has become the norm for many of us. From ordinary people to content creators and influencers, part of ourselves is expressed through pixels.

But we live in a physical world, and hence, we still need to wear physical clothes. The need for physical clothing poses a significant challenge, though – sometimes we find ourselves shopping just to satisfy the digital world, which demands newness. Therefore, we inevitably see ourselves wearing our clothes very few times – if not just once – and end up hurting our environment in the process.

“In a virtual world, there’s no need for physical garments.”

Suppose you’re an influencer or digital creator who needs to keep up with trends. Digital fashion will become important because you will not need physical garments anymore, or at least not all of them. If the images and videos are digital, why do we need physical fashion?

RELATED ARTICLE: Why I Buy Clothes That Don’t Exist: Is Digital Fashion Worth It?

But how advanced is this technology, you might be wondering? To answer that question for yourself, take a look at DressX, a digital fashion design house that will have their fantastic clothing fitted on you – using a picture – and Instagram-ready in a couple of days!

Picture before DressX
This is the picture I sent to DressX after I selected the dress I wanted to “wear”.
Picture after DressX
A few hours later, I’m “wearing” my digital garment!

2. Digital fashion allows us to try before consuming.

Thanks to digital fashion, we will virtually try on clothes before buying the physical ones. Virtual try-on is especially important for sustainable shopping in today’s world. Most of our textile waste ends up as landfill material due to returns from ultimately not liking or fitting clothing.

Even though virtual try-on technologies are still in their infancy, digital fashion is the stepping stone for such platforms to become possible because garments need to be digitized.

3. Digital fashion improves the physical design process.

What can designers do with digital fashion that they couldn’t do before? The answer is pretty simple: they have more control over their designs. In other words, they get to take full advantage of all the possibilities afforded by designing things digitally instead of limiting themselves to physical materials or textiles. Digital fashion also allows for entirely new kinds of fabrics.

At the same time, the design and sampling process becomes more streamlined with faster turnaround times and reduces the use of resources and textile waste. Digital samples replacing physical garments during design and development phases reduce the brand’s carbon footprint by up to 30%, says The Fabricant, one of the most prominent digital-only fashion houses, in their blog.

The Fabricant digital fashion house
The Fabricant is a digital fashion house that constantly collaborates with traditional brands to create digital collections

4. Digital fashion is sustainable.

It’s not news for anyone that fashion is one of the most polluting industries globally and that our need for new clothes is causing irreversible damage to the planet. But, with digital fashion, you could technically wear unique and stylish clothes every day in your Instagram feed, Zoom call, or any digital platform without the CO2 emissions and the contamination that it implies.

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Now, even though our common sense might tell us that digital clothing has less impact on the environment than its physical counterpart, we might still be wondering, how sustainable is digital fashion?

To answer that question, we referred to a study by The Fabricant and The Imperial College Of London illustrating the environmental effect of physical versus digital fashion, which provides us with scientific proof that digital fashion makes us look great and it’s much easier in the environment.

During the study, they found the following:

  • The production of a single t-shirt, from design to disposal, generates 7.8 kg of CO2. A digital-only t-shirt generates 0.26 kg: a reduction of more than 97 percent in carbon impact!
  • Washing of t-shirt during its lifecycle amounts to 683 liters of water consumption; meanwhile, a digital-only product doesn’t need any water.
  • Environmental pollution caused by chemicals in the physical design and production phase amounts to 12,300 kg. Digital-only generates 0.692 kg.

These numbers show that virtual clothing is the way to go.

Final thoughts

Digital fashion is still very young, and it involves specialist human intervention. Nevertheless, we dream of a world where digital fashion becomes the new fast fashion as 3D design and AI technologies advance to allow scaling. For now, we’d like to remain with the message from DressX “Don’t shop less. Shop digital.”

If you are excited about digital fashion but don’t know where to start, check out our article about the top brands and marketplaces.