The fusion of fashion and technology has been on the rise in recent years, largely due to the absence of physical interaction as a result of COVID-19.
An example of this is the work of TikTok creator Cameron Hughes, who uses his former career in engineering to his advantage by designing high-tech clothing, including a moveable feather crown, a receipt printing skirt, and a color-changing dress.
The New York-based designer recently collaborated with jewelry company CHRISHABANA to create a spinning flower bra for pop and R&B artist Doja Cat to appear on a Taco Bell Super Bowl ad. Hughes details the design process in this TikTok video, as he does for many of his pieces.
Then there is designer Anifa Mvuemba, who took the internet by storm with the Instagram debut of her virtual runway show when cases first began to rise. Headless 3D models were showcased strutting in fashions from the PinkLabelCongo collection for Mvuemba’s brand, Hanifa.
The Congolese artist created the line for those who “may never experience a fashion week or Hanifa showcase,” as stated in an interview with Teen Vogue, adding that designing with 3D models requires a “greater amount of attention-to-detail for the clothes to fit and look just right.”
Another player in virtual fashion shows is Balenciaga, most notably with the “clone” show that debuted the brand’s Spring 2022 collection. The collection focuses on the Gestalt Theory, which explores “the way in which humans, when looking at a group of objects, will see the whole before we see the individual parts.”
The concept is demonstrated by displaying every look from the collection on model Eliza Douglas appearing as a clone, deepfake or through CG face-scanning technology, with a digitally added audience. The collection examines the rise of technology and how the modern world is changing our priorities and the alternate identities that it creates.
Demna Gvasalia, Creative Director for Balenciaga, asks, “What we see online is not what it is. What’s real and what’s fake?”
Fashion technology has even spread into the video game realm, with Balenciaga collaborating with Fortnite last fall. With the Balenciaga Fit Set, players could purchase digital clothing based on the physical pieces from the collaboration. Other games like "Dead by Daylight," whose concept artists have backgrounds in fashion, and "Grand Theft Auto V," whose developers partnered with streetwear brand MISBHV, have also found a place in the fashion community.
Photo by Fortnite/Epic Games
“It’s a new trend, but it’s not a trend that’s going to die; It’s only getting more popular,” said "Dead by Daylight" co-producer Jo-Ashley Robert.
Fashion technology has seen a similar theme of character customization in social media, with more investors paying attention to Snapchat’s Bitmoji. In 2020, the platform enabled users to mix-and-match available pieces when dressing their virtual selves to make them even more customizable. Brands like Ralph Lauren and Levi’s have caught on, both partnering with the Snapchat and Bitmoji apps.
If these trends continue, new technologies may be changing the way consumers shop, suggesting “a future where stores are nothing more than static web pages,” where VR headsets become the new fashion frontier, and virtual fitting rooms are ubiquitous.