The Future of Fashion is … Digital?



High fashion has gone virtual. Joined by some of the world’s most renown names, Metaverse Fashion Week served up real potential as to future progression of the luxury retail industry. Here, we talked with Metaverse Fashion Week’s former head, Giovanna Casimiro, about the implications of digital fashion for the future of customer experience and sustainability. 


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A modern day spin on an iconic runway show moment, Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW) parallels a shifting reality of the fashion industry towards a digital realm of being. Preserving some of the rich intricacies of traditional runway culture, the all-immersive, entirely digital fashion showcase featured “wearable” collections and activations from over 60 designers and artists. In addition to digital natives, participant brands included luxury household names like Dolce & Gabbana, Diesel, Coach, and Tommy Hilfiger. Major fashion weeks — Shanghai, New York, Milan, London, and Paris, to name a few — all have experimented with virtual reality, embracing technologically forward lines of thought. Decentraland pushes the virtual industry forward with an unparalleled force, signposting what a digitally-equipped fashion future might really look like. 

Giovanna Casimiro, former head of MVFW, consistently pushes the boundaries of “conventional” fashion. We talked with Giovanna about her role in MVFW, possible future iterations of the show, and implications of digital fashion, more generally, for a sustainable future.


Rattled by a global pandemic, the early 2020’s – specifically, 2020 and 2021, while social circumstance was still especially tough to navigate and when Decentraland began their conversation about a MVFW – marked a cultural shift. At the time, there was a major emphasis on virtual spaces and communities, since physical ones were heavily guarded (the six-feet-apart rule governed the earlier months, and masks made it difficult to project one’s voice all that far). Parallel to this was a growing community of creators in Decentraland and on other metaverse platforms — a generation of pioneers that had started to create fashion digitally (the fashion industry also halted its reign during these covid-stricken years, as there were no runway shows at this time and in-person shopping was a rare luxury). In response, the concept for MVFW took its shape — Giovanna and her team wanted to implement a program that would help to showcase these designers, along with their creations, to the rest of the world.

Once Decentraland started to create a lineup with strictly digital designers, other, fiscal brands wanted to get involved as well — for example, Dolce approached Giovanna requesting their participation. When all was said and done, the first ever MVFW installation featured roughly 70 brands, all bound by a communal, digital space and a profound interest in virtual fashion.

There tends to be some skepticism surrounding the metaverse and, when MVFW launched, brands were interested, but not necessarily sure of its potential. Many (specifically, non-digital centric) brands approached the project with an open mind and causal attitude, saying that they would be happy with whatever Giovanna’s team and online forums could provide them. 


“I think what happens sometimes is that we stick to the words and end up hating them. And I think the metaverse is one of those terms that we sacrificed. It doesn’t mean that when we don’t use those terms the technology vanishes. Actually, it dissipates, it dissolves into other things.”


By the time the second show came around, brands were coming back fully invested in the process, analyzing the greater utility of metaverse and digital fashion on real-life products, customers, and sales, with an intent to implement these practices in their own brands. In fact, many brands are actually using metaverse technology in their practices without even realizing it — for example, the Emperia tool which is a basic 360 engine. Brands have especially started to integrate metaverse features with e-commerce and marketing forums, revisiting their websites to create a reliable and exciting place for customers to shop. In this way, the metaverse, while not outwardly directed, is being used as a strategic method on a more under-the-radar basis.

More so than providing a future avenue for fashion itself, Giovanna believes the metaverse will probably continue to serve as a tool for brands and designers to broaden their horizons – to engage new audiences, and to elevate their assortments and merchandising practices. As Giovanna notes, there is also great power in alternate, non-metaverse digital tools that are helping to optimize the process of creating fashion more productively and sustainably. The introduction of novel digital tools and processes – such as 3D modeling and printing – prevent a need for clothing to be manufactured in high quantities. These digital tools will force companies to rethink their chain of manufacturing – an industry-wide shift we already see happening. 

Currently a teacher at the Institut Francais de la Mode, Giovanna witnesses first hand the power of these tools, and many of her students work with 3D, rather than physical, prototyping. This process allows her students to understand the behavior of the piece before executing the design using physical resources and more targeted manufacturing. 

In her vision of a perfect world, Giovanna sees digital tools becoming a dominant path within the industry. Her desire for the future of humanity and fashion is that “we will go to a store, and we will 3D print everything in real-time. Like a sandwich place, where they cook your food and you take it with you.” Of course, the desire to buy fashion will still more than likely exist – fashion is very much so grounded in sensory modalities; we like to interact with the product we buy.


“We came from an era of the machine, the computer-centered. And we are coming back to the body-centered and everything is converging to our body — the technology will be in our body, the threat will be in our body, everything will be in our body.”


So, while digital tech and metaverse fashion might never replace this aspect of fashion, it can surely still contribute to an overall more sustainable fashion economy. 3D tools – for example, FabLab machines – have and continue to impact the way modern designers think about fashion. We all are excited to see where fashion goes next. 



Highlight Image:
@ Unsplash, ZPKyG9_YvkI

+ Words:
Tori Palone
Luxiders Magazine