You don’t have to Google it to discover non-fungible tokens are making headlines in fashion. Major-and rather traditional- fashion houses such as Burberry, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton are entering the Metaverse by creating virtual replicas of their most popular garments showcased via augmented and virtual reality.
Targeting mostly Gen-Z and Millenial customers who are confident in digital spaces and love gaming, fashion brands have launched a series of collaborations with major gaming companies such as Roblox and Fortnite, offering digital fashion items aka ‘skins’ and other metaverse perks. According to DMarket, which has a platform for trading skins, the estimates for the skin market is $40 billion a year and the fascination for digital wearables spans around 85% of U.S. gamers ages 13 to 45.
Adam Andrascik knows one thing or two about the current NFT storm. A creative director, Andrascik currently leads the Digital Technology For Fashion pathway at Ravensbourne University London, following the critical and audience success of his Rave Digital x Twitch program, which last year brought fashion and gaming students together. We caught up with him to discuss everything NFT, gaming, and how the Metaverse is transforming the fashion landscape.
How did you first have the idea about the gaming plus fashion connection?
I had started, doing part-time teaching at Ravensbourne University London. One of the coursework requirements was to do a paper on something innovative in your field. I have a PS4, X-Box, and a big friend group who was still engaged with all of this, online. It was something I was always interested in. So I wrote about digital fashion and how I think it is an entirely new space for creatives to be able to monetize their work outside of the natural ecosystem.
What was interesting about digital for me was that you didn’t actually have to please any of the gatekeepers who already exist within fashion. You didn’t have to please any of the critics; you could actually build your very own world. There’s a community of people who were interested in this type of work and traditional fashion doesn’t cater to them.
So what makes digital fashion so exciting for you?
You don’t have to worry about production issues and supply chains. The other thing I think is really interesting is that it levels up the playing field in terms of people who can actually take part in the design process. Prior to this, if you wanted to be a designer, you either had to go to a university and learn or figure out a way to teach yourself or maybe get a job. In all cases, you’d have to buy the equipment, the fabric, possibly get a machinist or a pattern maker to assist you with cutting, etc. With digital, you don’t have to do any of these. What I think is so exciting about the whole process is that it gives the people who wouldn’t necessarily be able to have a voice in this space, have one now, and reach their customers directly. You don’t have to wait to be bought by a wholesaler.
I don’t think digital will be a replacement for anything. I never understood that. You cannot replace real clothing with no clothing.Adam Andrascik
Can we create an experience similar to the physical one, when it comes to the digital world? People love experience; it’s everything luxury is about the experience. So how can this work?
I don’t think that digital will be a replacement for anything. I never understood that. You cannot replace real clothing with no clothing. It’s like manufacturing and commercialization of clothing coming right after Haute Couture-didn’t change it much. You just had the use of industrial line practices enabling you to produce clothing quicker. Ready to wear never killed Haute couture.
Yes, it didn’t…
It actually made Haute couture more valuable. It became even more rarefied. I agree tactile experiences don’t necessarily exist in digital. So you have a company like Artifact- when you purchase a, say, digital shoe, you get a real shoe sent to you later. You can build a kind of delayed gratification into these products, so that maybe instead of the instant gratification of, purchasing something online, it’s the excitement that within three months, the digital item you bought is becoming real. It’s the waiting the anticipation that creates the experience.
What about copyright? I upload something it’s my work. Suddenly someone else comes in, edits it. To whom does it finally belong?
It’s a very good point. It’s probably the most pressing point right now on Web 0.3. I am building a business at the moment that deals with copyright and IP issues in our more decentralized world. There needs to be a way you can claim ownership over a digital application or item. I think that’s the next big issue in the Metaverse.
I’m a fashion editor, and I’m often reviewing collections. How can there is your digital collection and do it justice?
If someone’s background is purely reviewing clothing in a real-life setting, it indeed becomes difficult. You are used to taking into account the show’s environment such as direction, models, etc. And yet, all of these things can still exist within that digital frame. In digital a lot of designers, I know they don’t necessarily want to be known or be part of this traditional fashion guard. You can just sell your work digitally. If people like it, they buy it. I think it’s probably the same way that if you were reviewing books and then suddenly you had to review movies and then you have to talk about cinematography and lighting. Digital fashion is just an extension of the real thing-only in other, exciting dimensions.