Proponents of digital fashion suggest it offers a potential answer to how to move the fashion industry towards a more sustainable footing.
In his latest blog, UK analyst Planet Tracker examines what digital fashion means and why it is unlikely to reduce the need for the industry to make significant structural changes.
Recognizing the potential of digital fashion, a series of big brands have already started experimenting with the new market. In September 2021, Dolce & Gabanna launched a digital and physical capsule show. The collection included the auction of a range of unique items where winning bidders received both an NFT (non-fungible token) and a bespoke physical version of the product. Overall, the show grossed nearly $6 million in sales.
Also in September 2021, Balenciaga launched a range of digital products in the popular online battle royale game Fortnite and in December last year, Ralph Lauren created an event on the Roblox online platform allowing users to purchase exclusive fashion items. Nike also acquired digital shoe designer RTFKT that month and launched its first digital sneaker collection in April of this year. Unique pairs of digital shoes have sold for up to $130,000.
Digital fashion offers an exciting new market opportunity for brands and one they would do well to seek out, suggests Planet Tracker. However, it should not divert attention from the major structural changes needed by the traditional fashion industry if it is to achieve its goals of reducing its environmental impact.
Reinvesting new digital profits into driving changes in their physical operations would be a welcome strategy for the industry, the blog concludes.