When it comes to current fashion trends, fast-fashion continues to dominate the market, as seen by businesses such as H&M and Zara. Fast-fashion refers to clothing designed more for short-term use rather than long-term wear. Its staggeringly low prices is supposed to entice customers to return for the season's latest pieces. Yet the unfortunate reality is that this increase in both clothing manufacturing and consumption results in a massive amount of wasted clothing. The solution? According to Teen Vogue, several brands are designing digital outfits for excited customers.
The numbers speak for themselves. The New York Times notes how in 2015, "The United States generated 11.9 million tons — or about 75 pounds per person — of textile waste, most of which ended up in landfills. That’s more than a 750 percent increase since 1960." While it is typical of brands to feature environmentally-friendly garments, whether they use sustainable materials or a longer-last material, many consumers don't feel it's an adequate response.
Carlings, a Scandinavian retailer debuted an augmented reality collection. Consumers, wearing a special Carlings white t-shirt with a trackable logo, could add one of several moving logos to the shirt via smartphone, covering a wide variety of social issues. Because of the design, there weren't pieces intended for specific genders, and there were no size restrictions. Take a look below at one of Carlings's many digital designs in action:
Another brand has opted for a similar approach to fashion. Happy99 creates digital footwear, in an effort to question our understanding of fashion. Nathalie Nguyen, one of the founders of the brand, stated, "All of our shoes are in a sense ‘real'. Are they physical, consumable products? No. But in the same way that people like a picture, engage with it, comment on it, and share it with their friends, they have consumed the product.”
Similarly, consumers can purchase a digital copy of this futuristic footwear to add to their own social media feeds. They have an artificial sheen to them. The creators aren't trying to fool anyone with a photo-realistic design. Instead, they embrace the digital quality of their output.
So is this the future of mainstream fashion? So far, this practice has only been adopted by a few up and coming brands, rather than the retail giants dominating the industry. But all of that could change quite rapidly as awareness spreads. Going forward, our retail therapy could entail adding digital filters to our Instagram feeds rather than hanging out at the local mall.