Your Next Pair of Sneakers Might Be Made Out of Fire & Here's Why

Your Next Pair of Sneakers Might Be Made Out of Fire & Here's Why

In a saturated eCommerce market, the majority of consumers are very familiar with the easily accessible ‘Add to Cart’ option. However, with the advent of digital fashion, online shopping and ready-to-wear clothing acquires an entirely new meaning. Digital fashion retailer DressX, founded by entrepreneurs Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova, capitalizes upon a shift in consumer habits towards the “purchase, Instagram, return trend.” This consumption model involves the purchase of clothing for the sole purpose of creating social media content, that is then either returned or discarded. With digital fashion, the same process occurs more efficiently and with less waste involved. Upon arrival at shoppers simply browse the selections of various participating brands, upload a photo of themselves and within 1-2 business days receive an email featuring themselves wearing their garment or accessory of choice.

As an emerging market, you might be wondering what exactly is digital fashion? Amber Jae Slooten, co-founder of digital fashion house The Fabricant, defines digital fashion as “anything that has to do with fashion beyond the physical realm—fashion you can wear with your digital identity.”  Digital fashion pushes the boundaries of what materials can be represented and featured in a design. Buffalo London, a brand known most famously for their platform sneakers, created a shoe that uses fire as fabric. Brands and designers are now increasingly designing digital fashion in response to consumer demand for avenues of self-expression in a virtual space. A joint venture with virtual sneaker brand RTFKT and crypto-artist FEWOCiOUS, resulted in over 600 pairs of digital footwear sold generating $3.1 million USD.

Digital fashion presents unique intellectual property considerations. As a highly collaborative industry, what might be the risks to artists and designers? Trademark Attorney Alison Cole poses that “the original designer risks losing the right to recreate their own design if they do not retain the IP when translating into 3D.” When a physical garment is converted into its digital twin, ownership may vary depending upon the particular software used. In some cases, ownership may vest in the 3D license holder. Subject to the particular scenario, questions of ownership could get quite complex. For example, an artist may create a design that is then converted into a 3D iteration by an agency with a third party combining these elements for an editorial. Artists should be aware of the effects of these arrangements and consider crafting specific contracts that ensure their work is protected in an agreed upon manner.

 Steps Towards a More Sustainable and Inclusive Industry

Digital Fashion has the positive effect of prioritizing sustainability and inclusivity within the fashion industry.  As per The Fabricant’s mantra “fashion should waste nothing but data and exploit nothing but the imagination.” As digital clothing requires no physical outputs and is made from pixels rather than textiles, the total carbon footprint of producing one digital item is 95% less than the average production for a physical garment.” Further, with the use of digital production, artists can seamlessly switch between different shapes and heights of bodies.

Whether you’re interested in trying on virtual sneakers or creating your own designs, digital fashion is now a highly commercially viable asset. The future of digital fashion presents endless possibilities and as Dress-X encourages “Don’t Shop Less, Shop Digital Fashion.”

Written by Samantha Melhado, JD Candidate 2022, enrolled in Professor D'Agostino's Directed Reading: IP Innovation Clinic course at Osgoode Hall Law School. As part of the course requirements, students were asked to write a blog on a topic of their choice.