The couture is in the craft
The craft is in the code
The code is the couture
Digital Fashion — defined as ‘any worn garment manufactured in the digital realm’ — has reached adolescence.
Just like any teenager, the past few years have been characterised by growing pains, mood swings and mild self delusions. Never mind the fact that a lot of what’s coming out of our industry doesn’t make sense: it’s ‘wearable’ but you can’t wear it, it’s ‘digitally native’ but it looks like a t-shirt. Most significantly, while we claim to know who we are, ‘metaverse fashion’s’ digital authenticity is still just a teenage dream.
As our digital identities shift from curated snapshots of our physical lives, to realities created from the screen up — virtual clothes will become a big part of how we experience ourselves. And as the ‘digital’ in ‘digital culture’ becomes tautological, people, places and things will increasingly be viewed through meta-tinted-spectacles.
Despite our creep towards digitally native states of being, Digital Fashion is stuck in that ‘awkward phase’; a phase in which the values of our #tradfashion progenitors are ever present.
Whether consciously or unconsciously — today’s URL clothes are judged by IRL standards. We assess virtual fashion in relation to its physical counterparts, evaluating it through a ‘realism quotient’ aka. how realistically it’s rendered by 3D software, or how its ‘utility’ measures up to our real-world fits.
While this is only natural, with technology sprinting too fast for our perceptions to keep pace, it is detrimental to the art of fashion. By judging the qualities of digital clothing in relation to their IRL replicas, we discount what Digital Fashion could, and should, become.
In virtual worlds, fashion critiques can no longer be made on quality of material, natural fit, or alignment with the trends of any given season. When looking to URL clothes, we find ourselves on a whole different catwalk, one where quality is defined by digitally-native markers.
And when it comes to clothes no one does quality like couture.
Twice a year, buyers congregate in Paris for Haute Couture week, clamouring for the opportunity to get their hands on unique pieces from visionary creators.
And consumers don’t just covet creativity. They crave the craft: a Zuhair Murad dress boasts 1,500 hours of needlework across a team of 12 and a Schiaparelli Coat 500 hours of embroidery to fasten 54,795 synthetic pearls.
In a world where lifetimes lie between thought and expression, it’s craft that elevates these ni-unwearable garments gliding down the runway into what they truly are.
Just like our namesake ring ‘Draupnir’, DRAUP’s mission is to unsheath the value in digitally native clothing.
Immune to stains and tears, unshackled from conceptions of where it should be worn, and with the ability to quite literally defy gravity, the most valuable aspect of digitally native clothing is its ability to become art. Art in which the craftsmanship channelled, and the messages conveyed, rival that of even the most talented IRL couturier.
But to fulfil this potential, creating cool clothes on CLO3D isn’t enough. Instead, fashion has to look to the creative potentials of its new digitally-native form to define its new levers of quality. And take inspiration from the wider virtual space.
Across digital culture, creators are innovating in the digital, finding new directions to push their work that draws out real quality through the medium.
In art, the ‘gen-art’ movement boasts collectors geeking out as much on the metadata moulding their art, as its appearance. In film, storylines are dictated by AI, or determined decentrally. And in music, artists license out their voice to hundreds of 'distributed producers’, and work with bleeding edge technologies to make new sounds, in new languages, in real time.
In this new world, the complexity that comes with mastering these digital-first approaches makes creators more than just creatives. Their proficiency in specialised techniques makes them craftsmen as well.
In the worlds we’re soon to occupy, where value is measured in digitally-native beakers, the first step in defining digital couture is at the point of creation.
Just as fashion houses collaborate with the most talented embroiderers, seamstresses and creative directors to bring shared worlds to life, DRAUP’s in-house brand @pronounceddrop will forge each collection in partnership with these exemplary digital craftsmen.
Instead of translating physical fashion into the digital, together we’ll draw on practices endemic to the digital world to authentically approach the process of creation.
In dressing a world where digital authenticity is queen, we believe that this digital centered craft will separate what’s haute from what’s high street, creating couture that’s digitally-native in its truest sense.