The Fashion Awards, which took place in London on Monday night, leant into the new digital realities which have taken the industry by storm. Inviting a global fashion audience to experience the red carpet from the comfort of home, the British Fashion Council teamed up with gaming platform Roblox on a unique virtual experience complete with Gucci try-ons. The first ever Fashion Award for Metaverse Design also cemented the central role digital creators will play in our future, but it's a landscape which would be far duller without the work of the Institute of Digital Fashion (IoDF).
IoDF co-founders Cattytay and Leanne Elliott Young invited fashion's good and great to take part in their latest boundary-breaking digital activation on the red carpet at the Fashion Awards. Using digital fashion as a tool to evolve the industry - a sector which has seen international calls for change with little movement - is key for IoDF. In their short existence since launching last year, IoDF have created the world's first virtual couture gown made by a digital atelier, flung retail store MACHINE-A's doors open with an AR (augmented reality) experience, and launched the first non-binary digital asset. A revealing study by the think-tank recently laid out instrumental research on the world of avatars and gaming which fashion brands such as Gucci and Balenciaga have become enamoured with. The paper challenges the exclusive nature of the digital likenesses currently available, and presents findings on what users really want from their online experience in terms of representation.
Now, IoDF have brought AR onto the red carpet - a traditionally exclusive space reserved for industry elite. Their latest activation blurs the lines between the physical and the digital; a central part of the metaverse is that the world we scroll through on our phones can become our physical reality. IoDF unveiled an AR wearable asset featuring feather-like wings, which is available to try on via Snapchat. It will fit itself to any body shape and functions as both a fully-fledged garment or as an accessory. Tay and Young caught up with the likes of Bianca Saunders, Imran Ahmed, Charles Jeffrey, Kehlani, Kristen McMenamy and Tommy Hilfiger to talk about digital fashion, as they became the first to try out the item.
'When designing this AR garment, we thought about structure, adaptability and creating a module garment. We work beyond the restraints of our physical world, so you can swipe for different textures, colours and feathers. They all have physics so they can move around with your body. This is couture, it’s for any body type, the fit is not grounded by design or gender/ability,' says IoDF co-founder and creative director, Cattytay.
With around 2.4 billion mobile augmented reality users set to be active by 2023 (Statista, 2021), AR is not a technology to turn your nose up at. 'The AR we deliver at IoDF is inclusive and democratised. Anyone can attend and it has zero impact on the environment. It’s beyond the restrictions of our physical world, the possibilities are endless', explain the co-founders. They go on: 'This activation enables users to step into the metaverse and virtually wear fashion...it’s our future and it’s a bright one that's diverse and inclusive.'
On 10 December 2021, the IoDf asset was minted as an NFT and sold on The Dematerialised via the Lukso blockchain. 277 units sold out in 24 minutes, with two ultra-rare 'Meta-fashion Crystal' items gone in just two.
'It's important to recognise the trajectory of NFT's and what they stand for - a decentralised digital landscape. Buying an NFT now from IoDF is owning a part of the culture of our brand and this new market, this new future; it's owning a part of history', say IoDF Co-Founders, Leanne Elliott Young and Cattytay .