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Virtual clothes, real money

From left: Renderings of the “Atokirina” look and the “Fibonacci” look made by digital fashion company Auroboros; and a virtual sneaker from RTFKT and digital artist Fewocius. Image credit: Reuters

OK, we are “living” more and more in the cyberspace, as an example the printing of photos has decreased, it has dived if compared with the number of photos taken, and we are using photos in digital format. Books are another example. For one, I forgot when it was the last time I bought a paper book, yet I am buying at least one book a week in digital form and read it on my Kindle, computer, smart phone.

Yet, I was surprised reading that there might be a market for virtual cloths. More than that: a virtual/digital cloths can be pricier than a real one! A Gucci bag was sold for over 4,000$, protected by NFT (Non-Fungible Token, watch the clip). Auroboros is one of the digital fashion companies that is selling digital “clothes” tailored on your body. You start by scanning (with your smartphone camera) your body and they customise a digital apparel just for you (a unique design, not just a resizing of an existing one). You can then use this digital cloth in social media.

A digital creation by Auroboros. The person is bathing with his swimwear plus the digital complement, This latter becomes visible when looking through augmented reality glasses. Image credit: Auroboros

In perspective the potential is to develop digital apparels that can be seen through augmented reality. Imagine: you buy a digital cloth aHirotond your digital twin gets hold of it. When a person will look at you she will see you through augmented reality (AR glasses or more futuristic AR contact lenses) getting an image, and a perception, that is fusing the cyber with the physical space.

An example can be the one shown in the image on the side. The “decoration” on the body are virtual, generated by Auroboros, becoming visible through augmented reality. Today this is most uncommon, but by the end of this decade (provided we will get seamless access to AR with new devices that have yet to be invented) it might become normal to live in an augmented space, what we call Digital Reality, At that point the interest for , and sales of, digital apparels, may rise exponentially. What we are seeing today are the first adopters, they are not a “market” but they can provide a glimpse on a possible future.

One of this fore-runners is Hiroto Kai, a Japanese designer that spent time designing digital kimonos and sold them on the web at 140$ each, making over 15,000$ within three weeks. Notice that since these are digital kimonos the manufacturing cost is “zero” the margin is huge!

Personally, the idea of paying big bucks to dress me up on social media does not have any appeal. I can understand that some social media addict can place higher value in this. Of course, there is the issue of making sure that the brand of the digital stuff you are buying and showing off is real. For this NFT (a derivation of blockchain) provides a certification of authenticity.


About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.