Many people couldn't bear to part with physical fashion. Clothes, they say, are to be touched and felt. If that’s no longer possible, what's the point of doing fashion at all? Also, physical clothes have real value —They can be traded, resold, or donated to those in need. What good is storing a source file of an image that exists only on screen? Good points! But let's break them down a little bit to see if physical fashion is really better than digital fashion.
1. "Clothes are to be touched and felt"
Garment history, materials, and main functions:
The history of clothes dates back to many thousands of years ago. Scientists couldn't agree on the exact calendar year, but it ranges between 40,000 and 170,000.
The earliest clothes were made up of leaves, grass, or fur draped around the body to form a barrier between human skin and the environment. Later on, people developed many types of fabrics from plants or animals such as wool, linen, cotton, hemp, and silk; the techniques of clothes making also evolved from simple wrapping to knitting or weaving. In modern times, garments are not only woven from natural fibers but also man-made ones such as nylon and polyester.
In addition to the protection function—keeping the body warm or protecting skin against insects, clothes play an important social role. For example, not wearing clothes in public may result in embarrassment; in some cultures, it might even be considered indecent exposure. Furthermore, clothes are a reflection of social status, ranking, level of wealth, and individuality.
As people’s intimate relationship with clothes grows, touching and feeling the garment on the body becomes an essential part. It makes us feel safe and experience comfort and a sense of importance.
The problem arises when we own more clothes than we need.
If scarcity creates value, owning more of something can make it less valuable. This is true with clothes. There might be a point that you have too many outfits that they lose meaning to you. Then clothes are just something you put on our backs. They no longer retain the importance of "touch and feel". You only them to impressing strangers on your social profiles.
The reality is we value our clothes less than we think we do. According to a survey, most people wear less than half of their closets. Russia uses the most clothes in their closet (roughly 50%) while people in Belgium and the US have the highest rate of unused clothes, 88%, and 85% respectively.
Here’s the question:
"If we don't wear clothes that much, why load our closet with them?"
Maybe you don't need more physical clothes. A virtual closet is enough to impress friends on Instagram and Snapchat. You can express your sense of creativity without harming the environment. Meanwhile, owning less physical clothes will make you appreciate them more and justify the "touch and feel" benefit.
2. "Physical clothes have real value"
This is true, but only if you buy high fashion—Clothes produced by luxury brands with high-quality materials and timeless designs. These are the ones you can resell or pass on to another person in need. On the other hand, fast fashion is almost worthless at the end of its lifetime. Besides, there's no guarantee they can last after a few washes. For physical clothes that make it to the poorer countries for donation, the majority of them are in unwearable conditions and thus shipped to landfills instead.
Digital fashion may be more valuable.
Surprised?— A moving image on the screen can make big bucks!
What makes this possible?
The answer lies in NFT, a digital file authenticated by blockchain to protect the ownership of digital art. This means once you buy a digital item, it's yours forever unless you decide to sell it. Not only that, The records of every transaction will remain permanent in the blockchain, irreversible.
Designed by Shiole Idiat
NFT technology also turns digital clothes into an asset. Like paintings in showrooms or museums which bring the owner money from entrance fees, uniquely designed 3D garments can earn you commissions from royalties or re-sells. The key is to invest in the right piece of art so you can have recurring revenue.
For digital fashion designers, the opportunity is endless too for digital collectors are always on the lookout for original, timeless art. As seen in the examples of The Fabricant and RTFKT Sneakers.
Designed by Ekaterina Andreeva
Digital clothes may not give you the pleasure of touch and feel, but their functionality can extend beyond that of a garment. It is a way of self-expression without environmental costs and holds the potential of being an asset for its owner or buyer.
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