Digital Fashion: Fad or Future of Sustainable Fashion?

The global fashion industry, especially that of fast fashion has often taken centre stage when it comes to concerns around sustainability. The swift changing fashion seasons, quarterly new collections, mass production and many such wasteful practices have often got this industry much flak. The growth of the sustainability movement has slowly but surely played a major role in shifting the focus. 


We have been witnessing a rise in slow fashion brands across the world and large designer houses have also begun a shift towards more responsible production methods. Among the many sustainable developments being made, one that has gained much prominence during the pandemic is ‘Digital Fashion’.

What is Digital Fashion? 

  • By definition, digital fashion is a format of visually representing clothing, that’s been built using 3D software and simulations.
  • In simpler terms, it is a form of computer technology, that allows you to see new collections and designs virtually (a.k.a, online). So naturally, these outfits are not made of any fabrics or textiles, but simply by using pixels and 3D technology. A growing rage amongst many couture designers, many are now making realistic representations of their new collections for the online realm.
  • To give you an idea of how it works, you can buy these ‘virtual’ outfits online at a comparatively lesser price than the physical outfit would cost. Then, you are asked to upload a clear picture of yourself and the outfit is custom-fitted to your body frame. In the end, you get a hyper-realistic picture of yourself sporting the designer outfit, without actually owning the physical product. These pictures can then be used on your social media platforms.

Why It Matters:

On the surface, this idea may seem pointless to some, especially those who love wearing and owning unique outfits. But there is hardly ever innovation without cause. Digital fashion, though nascent at this stage, has a lot of promising benefits” 

How Designers Benefit From Digital Fashion:

Digital fashion solves one of the biggest dilemmas of the industry i.e, overproduction and waste. By creating virtual samples of new designs and launching ‘online collections’, designers also save on the cost of mass-producing a collection that may or may not get sold. 

Digitally conducted fashion events allow designers to go ahead and physically produce only those outfits that have a demand and avoid the rest.       

The Consumer Benefits:

Another significant pro that arises from digital fashion, is the accessibility for consumers. With events being conducted entirely online, fashion lovers get the opportunity to attend such shows from any part of the world! To a great extent, this has helped make couture & high-end fashion events more accessible to a larger audience.
This was also especially useful during the ongoing pandemic, as travel and safety restrictions led to the cancellation of many such fashion weeks.

The Environmental Pros:

  • To put things into perspective, each digital outfit produced can save more than 3000 litres of water per garment! It also reduces carbon emissions by 97%, as compared to a physically produced garment. 
  • Last year, a study revealed the carbon emissions from travelling to attend the four major fashion weeks (New York, London, Paris, and Milan). The total carbon emissions amounted to a whopping 241,000 tonnes. This is the equivalent of having 51,000 cars on the road!
  • Besides these 4 major events, there are 100+ annual fashion weeks conducted in other parts of the world, such as Egypt, India, Seoul, Shanghai and the like. On a whole, the shift to digital fashion shows can save plenty of carbon emissions from such extensive travel.
  • Another important aspect of offline fashion events is the waste generated at events. From lighting to mass clothing produced, to plastic water bottles and even food waste, the list can be quite long. Online events eliminate the need for such extra frills that may add to the waste crisis world over. 

The future is digital, but is it sustainable?

Digital fashion is powered and supported entirely by the Information and Communication Technology sector worldwide. While digital fashion reduces the pressure of overproduction and waste, this sector is also responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. 

Digital outfits are also being bought and sold as NFTs, which run on a blockchain network called Etherium (a cryptocurrency platform). This is an energy-intensive process which has as the power consumption of a single Ethereum transaction is equivalent to that of an average household over 4.38 days!

Currently, with the scale of digital fashion being smaller, this impact is much less significant. But, if it continues to grow at a large scale as per the predictions of industry experts, this impact could grow simultaneously. Many sustainability enthusiasts and eco-warriors believe, that in such a scenario we’d only be shifting the damage, without truly reducing it. 

While the demand and acceptability of digital fashion are growing swiftly, a lot remains to be seen about the future of such technology. Broadly speaking, digital fashion does have the ability to make the fashion industry much more planet positive than it currently is, but whether the era of digital fashion proves to be a gamechanger still depends on the appropriate and managed use of such technology. 

We for sure, are quite hopeful and excited to see where this new era of digital development takes us all! 
What are your views, apprehensions and expectations from digital fashion?

Do leave us a comment on what you think about Digital Fashion

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