Is Digital Fashion Really the Future? An Expert Weighs In
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Digital fashion isn’t new. In fact, explains virtual reality expert Caitlin Lomax, digital fashion goes all the way back to 2003 when online world Second Life opened fashion stores, outlets and even shopping centres. Operated by real-life brands, the stores sold virtual clothes, shoes and accessories for players to dress their avatars in.
So, why would someone buy digital fashion? “The more time you spend in VR, the more time you embody the avatar,” Lomax says.
For background, Lomax is a former model, having walked for Chanel, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu. Today, she has her own AR/VR/Virtual production studio called Intr Studio, where she comes up with creative, new ideas for brands, and also works as a senior producer, making VR games.
“Digital fashion is a digital representation of you, a way to express who you are — or who you want to be. Much like physical clothes — the way we dress our avatars influences the way we interact with others.”
Lomax herself says that when she attended Splendour XR, a virtual reality version of Splendour in the Grass, she spent more than she even wants to admit on digital garments for her avatar. Being able to customise what all the avatars at the festival looked like really added to the festival atmosphere, she says.
“I know many IRL designers find it hard to translate their designs into digital assets with the real-time rendering limitations,” Lomax says. “It’s hard to get a very detailed design to translate into an asset that’s bound to the processing limitations of VR headsets, mobiles and the majority of PCs that their normal clientele would own.”
Despite that, Lomax says she sees this as an opportunity for another breed of designers to grow — designers who are digital-first with a different clientele and a different way of expressing their creativity. As for what the world of digital fashion and virtual reality, as a whole, is like, Lomax says that because immersive tech is so new, it’s a level playing field for men and women.
“We don’t have to spend time trying to break down the patriarchy or fight for a limited number of spots for women at the table,” she says. “We can fully focus on our craft. When you get the time to focus on your craft, you can really succeed at making a name for yourself.”
In fact, many of the ‘women in AR/VR meetups’ are among the most respected, she says. Men and allies frequently attend those meetups because of the depth of knowledge shared at them.
What’s next for digital fashion? Lomax says that, with the processing powers of our devices increasing exponentially, in the next 10 years we’ll be able to see and access more detailed virtual fashion in different applications, anywhere, and from any angle.
“Something I’d love to see is a volumetric capture of a fashion show or fashion film presented as a hologram in your own home – watching it as casually as you would a TV show,” she says. “That might be a little more than 10 years away, though!”
For Lomax, being unstoppable means not taking no for an answer. She says if she quit every time someone told her something was impossible, she wouldn’t have gotten to where she is today, getting to do what she loves every day.
“If something is technically impossible (which happens in this industry) find a creative solution to achieve the same outcome — you can totally apply this to life in general,” she says.