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We are thirsty for new clothes, can digital fashion feed that sustainably?
When we talk about sustainability the historical elephant in the room is still the same and it has a name: Overconsumption. Yes, the constant need and insatiable thirst for new trendy clothes every week with all the environmental cost that this behaviour brings along. Want. Get. Snap. Throw away. Like in the best video games though, some people are claiming to have found the solution to this problem. It’s not a pill to stop our thirst for new clothes. It’s a new way to feed that need. Will it work?
At the intersection of two of Renoon’s five areas of impact (Modern Consumption and Innovation Technology) meet digital fashion. You could be wearing a plain black under-dress and make it look like a Gala outfit through your phone lens. No kidding. Someone would argue this is going to be our future.
You could wear something that hasn’t been actually produced. Seems a logical sustainable path. Or is it? How would you even use a digital dress?
What is digital fashion in the first place?
It completely took fashion by storm with the COVID-19 outbreak. Digital fashion is practically the creation of digital pieces of clothing through the use of computer programming and 3d software. The idea behind 3d fashion is to satisfy the desire that we have to shop for the latest trends, which nowadays seem to change every single week, and replace them with digital fashion pieces.
We asked Olga Chernysheva Chief Sustainability Officer at DRESSX, the world’s first online shop for digital clothing. She was one of the speakers at the industry event Renoon day8. Something we organized with many people, designers and brands, but also invited you guys. People who end up buying clothes on Renoon, as we need to open this conversation together.
Approx 90% of the clothes we buy are used to create online content with them
Olga argues that we are then driven by “latest trends” for our reels and videos. All these clothes then end up as trash as we move onto the next big trend.
All of a sudden what was cool and trendy yesterday is not anymore today. This type of behavior is what allows the fast fashion industry to grow more and more every month.
Is digital fashion truly the solution to this sustainability dilemma?
In 2020, Helsinki Fashion Week switched its entire event to digital, and after partnering with a consulting company called Normative, they were able to track the difference that digital fashion truly made.
Even though the event dropped its carbon emissions per visitor from 137kg to 0.66kg CO2e, the overall number of carbon emissions actually grew in comparison to previous years. According to Morten Rosén, “the preparations are much heavier in carbon footprint during the digital event than the physical events.” This is due to a large number of computers, data centers, and servers that are required in order to produce digital fashion.
Additionally, another factor that is important to take into consideration regarding digital fashion is the way that it is bought and sold. Even though some companies sell their pieces like a regular e-commerce product, others sell theirs as NFTs, which are responsible for about 21.35 metric tons of carbon dioxide released each year.
Ok, we didn’t want to bug you down! There are are still some interesting perspectives for digital clothing.
So, what’s next?
Even though digital fashion has its downsides, it is also important to highlight its upsides. According to DRESSX’s research, “the production of a digital garment emits 97% less CO2 than the production of a physical garment”.
“Our calculations show that during production we don‘t use water (besides the water our team drinks on a daily basis). Thus, production of a digital garment, on average, saves 3300 liters of water per item, which is enough for one person to drink 2 liters per day during 3,5 years” says Olga and the research.
No solution is ever going to be 100% sustainable, because there is no such thing as perfect sustainability. However, we are lucky enough to discover new, inventive solutions that have good intentions when it comes to reducing the modern consumption that we as people are unaware of.
At the end of the day, sustainability is about providing everyone with responsible and mindful alternatives to our current, not-so-responsible habits. Even though it may not be everyone’s perfect alternative, digital fashion could cause an impact on the reduction of fast fashion overconsumption.
Next time we would want to spice our social feed with a pop of color, we can snap a red jacket on it that doesn’t even exist in real life.
Let us know what you think on our IG.
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What is Renoon?
A new way to discover and shop fashion responsibly
Renoon is a leading app for sustainability and fashion. We connect our members with the multitude of brands and platforms to simplify and enrich the experience of combining style with sustainability values.
A destination and community launched in 2021, guiding thousands of members in their sustainability journey. Renoon is not yet another shop; it’s an entire universe of values, untold stories about sustainability and a cohesive place where intentions become reality.