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Designing For The Metaverse Gets Easier With Digital Fashion 101 by TDFG Academy

Fashion designers entering the realm of virtually wearable garments not only face incredible opportunities, and also incredible challenges when designing for the metaverse. That's where The Digital Fashion Group Academy comes in.

Mukeh Kanagbo
Avatar Model - Helsinki Fashion Week
Tess Van Zalinge 3D model | Credits: Helsinki Fashion Week 2021

Fashion designers have an amazing role to play in the world that’s being transformed by Web 3.0 technologies.

These days, there is huge interest being shown in creating fashion spectacles for a digital audience with hyper-realistic visuals, garments and avatars. More and more brands are looking into utilising 3D assets for their ads, seasonal releases and in a range of digital engagement formats. They are enamoured by how the blockchain and NFT smart contracts make digital assets exclusive and how the tech empowers a new wave of commerce via NFT marketplaces.

This kind of global-scale revolution doesn’t come by very often, so that’s why every time a fashion house releases a set of NFTs these days, it’s headline news. They stand out for being different. Besides the marketing ROI, they also stand to make a lot of money from this trend.

However, these 3 dimensional, well designed assets truly come alive in metaverse environments - the virtual spaces where people can digitally congregate and take part in audiovisual experiences in gamified systems. There is currently no real limit to what it means to design for the metaverse, and every newcomer to the space wants to do something amazing to stand out and show that they can push creative boundaries and storytelling in ways no one has seen before. This is precisely why being a fashion designer in these changing times now presents a greater challenge.

Staying Competitive as a Fashion Designer

In order to remain competitive, they must now not only contend with creating great quality designs using 3D software like CLO3D, but also have an understanding of how game engines work. They might also need to know how to make their designs easy to lend themselves into other interactive forms, like AR filters and various metaverse worlds that utilise avatars with wearable digital garments.

The challenge is in how to effectively bring the designs to life in the various formats.

The predominant technology used to build popular and engaging metaverse worlds has mostly been built by gaming companies, and so today when it comes to creating 3D projects, knowing how to port your project into the world supported by the gaming engine and maximising the use of native features of the gaming world are still relatively rare skill sets. There aren’t that many fashion-designer friendly YouTube video tutorials teaching how to do that.

As innovative fashion brands, platforms and entertainment producers continue to venture deeper into 3D and blockchain enabled experiences, fashion designers may also need to know how to contribute to cross platform gaming worlds and scripted shows and movies - where the properties of the garments might have specific functions and behaviours that can be viewed at all angles, and not faked just to get that one angle shot by VFX artists.

Furthermore, a fundamental understanding of what Web 3.0 is, is necessary. Briefly speaking, designs for web 3 work best when the digital asset empowers participation and intuitive follow-up actions rather than mere consumption. Such an understanding can dramatically change the approach a designer takes when it comes not just to designing pieces, but how they market themselves.

How To Think About Utility

Web 3.0 is a pseudonym of a network concept. It is a system that enables, e.g. a way for artists and individuals can be connected across the globe through automated processes instead of through a middleman establishment that relentlessly monetises their data. This means that platforms are being built with a different business model - one where people can get rewarded for their participation and purchases.

This doesn’t just mean a world with less invasive ads.

For example, in Web 3.0 applications, earning tokens (which can be exchanged for real money) is the norm to reward participation like sharing knowledge, playing or voting for how to govern or curate the content on the platform. Such platforms only work because of the high transparency and extreme difficulty in fabricating goods and provenance. By participating, users are automatically given greater access to more resources for even greater participation. 

Furthermore, the assets, or “goods”, they purchase on Web 3.0 empowered platforms tend to be NFTs with dynamic value that may increase over time, and then resold for profit. As opposed to the current Web 2.0 world that assumes the majority of users are mere consumers trying to buy items and social status, and leveraging attention to make money with advertising, users in the new system participate in a transparent framework based on in-built reward incentives and authenticity.

Fundamentally what this means is that in the emerging Web 3.0 world, people that show up to explore or buy designs are not mere consumers disconnected from the creators that produce and design their experiences. The people that show up are active participants with perpetual awareness of the original creator as they engage with their items.

For the artist, that means when designing for the Web 3.0 world, they should always be able to answer the question, “What is the full scope of utility of my piece? Beyond the design, what is the total value proposition of my Web 3.0 enhanced collectible?”

Alter Ego Avatar
Alter Ego Avatar | Credit: Fox

There is a lot of value that digital fashion artists can provide in terms of utility that they can get rewarded for. 3D fashion design work being utilised in entertainment to create whole new kinds of experiences, like in the game show Alter Ego by Fox Media LLC. where all participants are converted to live avatars wearing various fashion clothing. Artists can also work with brands to release “digital twin” sets where buyers get both real life and digital versions of their fashion items. There will be more and more opportunities where fashion designers will be looked for to create digital items that complement and/or interact with other virtual assets in game worlds like Decentraland and even in the upcoming, incredible visual experience being touted by Wilder World.

Creating heightened versions of experiences we have become accustomed to in real life like concerts and fashion shows are things that we can very reasonably expect to become commonplace in the near future.

And how to think about digital utility is part of the fundamental shift that more and more fashion designers will continue to contend with as we continue to break grounds in this new world.

Demystifying The Process For New Designers, by TDFG Academy

This can be a lot to take in for fashion artists.

To become one of the pioneering creatives trying to understand and take advantage of the metaverse as it is being designed, designers need to connect with the people at the forefront of the revolution. That is what the 6-week online interactive course, Digital Fashion 101, helps provide.

It is “an interactive platform that aims to educate, provide, and promote digital fashion talent who will influence digital transformation in the fashion industry and society, for the good of society.”

They brought together some of the most prominent names in digital fashion and the founders themselves have a huge network and experience working with, e.g. the leading global game developers that built Unreal Engine. Topics include The Digital Revolution, The Digital Stage, The Digital Ecosystem, Digital Ethics, and much more.

We are pleased to share with you that the next Digital Fashion 101 cohort commences on Nov 1, 2021. We recommend you go to their website now to find out how you can be a part of it. They also have a scholarship program called ‘Digital Equity’ to ensure diverse and inclusive cohorts of students.

Brand New Vision is aware that conventional fashion design education cannot react fast enough to digital transformation and we actively wish to help direct future fashion designers to the right resources.

The metaverse is an inaccessible, unknown void, until the space and mechanisms for humans to congregate in such a world are designed and built. And it's in demand.

Keep learning!