Rare are the times when gaming and fashion converge. I remember that one time Louis Vuitton and Final Fantasy came together, or the time Hermès released a rudimentary video game. But most couture collaborations with the gaming industry remain within the realm of artifice over substance. Karl Jouanni is here to change that with his forward-thinking, and gravity-defying fashion brand, Alive & More. Living within the cosmos of his other venture, Team Relms, Alive & More is a streetwear label that brings something new, fresh, and all-encompassing to the table. The concept is simple, get the RELMS app, play the game, and travel to the virtual fashion shrine to unlock your very real garments, and, while you’re at it, immerse yourself in the world of Team Relms as well.
The game designed by Team Relms marks a departure from traditional ways of selling products, but also showcases the rapidly evolving means of e-shopping. Now that online buying has become so commonplace, are digital means of sale becoming antiquated? In Jouanni’s words, his choice to go VR comes from a desire to “bring the in-store experience closer to the ‘point and click’ online shopping experience, in addition to clear benefits, such as a low carbon footprint.”
Less expected, however, is Team Relms’ desire to inspire real-world brands to layer their own buying experience rather than feel pressured to move everything online. This rings true for brands such as Gentle Monster who have thrived on heightening their real-world experience rather than betting everything on e-commerce, thus further demonstrating that the shopping experience can not only become an attraction, but can also host events and become its own branded-micro-universe and lifestyle.
Team Relms’ business model comes at a time of doubt concerning the pros and cons of incorporating paid goods or features in video games. In the UK, as of this year, the laws surrounding paid add-ons in games such as Counter-Strike and Call of Duty, have come under fire for potentially being a gateway to gambling later on in life. Some video games were also recently proved to be the perfect platform for criminals to launder dirty money. However, Jouanni stresses that his method of incorporating paid services is more to mimic that of subscriptions fees and exclusivity in real life. According to Jouanni, the natural evolution for his app would be to include infinite RELMS with a few being a paid extra, to give more perceived value to each VR universe created.
In terms of the future of VR, Jouanni has high hopes. He sees our convergence with technology and imminent symbiosis via Neuralink to be impending, and that, as he shared with Screen Shot, “We will all inevitably reach the point when brands and individuals alike have to make the call of how they will be represented in that conversation.”
Similar to how the internet has impacted us and the way we connect, Jouanni goes on to iterate that brands slowly created their web presence one by one before it became absolutely necessary to hire a web developer and launch their website. “This is where VR is heading, the new webpage,” he explains.
So maybe it is time for us to not only question how we approach traditional means of shopping, but also foresee where digital commerce can go. Is the next step a harmonious merge of the two? Or is it time we catch up with Jouanni and Team Relms while we still can, and begin building our very own digital abyss? Until then, my advice for you is to take cues from the man himself, venture into his digital world, and head over to the Team Relms website or the RELMS app. Enjoy your new shopping experience.
Attention influencers and avid instagrammers—the days of having to squander exorbitant amounts on one-time statement outfits are over, as companies have launched virtual clothing lines that could be purchased online for a reasonable price and be edited right onto your photo.
The pioneer of this technology is the Norwegian company Carlings, which launched its first digital clothing line back in November in response to a swelling number of influencers purchasing one-off outfits exclusively for social media purposes. Their collection, titled ‘Neo-Ex’, derived its style from video games such as Tekken, and featured bright neon colours and futuristic looks. Influencers and instagramers could purchase one of the 19 outfits on offer for £9 to£30 and submit a photo of themselves to Carlings’ 3D designer team, which would then digitally tailor the clothes onto the buyer’s image.
The digital-clothing trend caught on like wildfire, and now companies around the world, such as Moschino, The Fabricant, and Nike, have been dropping their very own virtual designs.
Aside from being financially accessible (at least for the time being), virtual clothing offers a solution to the polluting habits of the fashion industry— currently responsible for 10 percent of the world’s carbon footprint and the second-greatest contaminator of local freshwater around the world.
In an interview for Elle, Kicki Perrson, brand manager at Carlings Sweden, said, “By selling the digital collection at £15 per item, we’ve sort of democratised the economy of the fashion industry and at the same time opened up the world of taking chances with your styling, without leaving a negative carbon footprint”. Persson further stated that due to the incredibly positive responses Carlings is expected to launch its second virtual clothing line this summer.
Naturally, influencers seem enthused at merging fashion with the virtual realm. Daria Simonova told Elle, “I really love this idea because firstly, it’s environmentally-friendly and secondly, clothing nowadays is more like an art form for social media. Digital clothing is super convenient, and the design potential is huge because it’s way cheaper”.
Overall, digital clothing seems to be a fairly promising innovation. It is eco-friendly, affordable, and allows for uninhibited creative freedom. Yet, the ultimate impact of virtual fashion will depend on the future of this rising technology and its application.
Virtual clothing currently exists as a social-media-centred enterprise, and its main function is to be worn online for promotion purposes and likes-mining. It seems, however, that the majority of fashion-industry waste isn’t generated by influencers, but by the masses whose lives don’t revolve around Instagram and who gain more satisfaction by touting their outfits in the real world. And so as long as virtual clothing is trapped within the confines of social media, its ability to scale-down fashion induced pollution would be limited.
Digital fashion could prove far more environmentally friendly if it is ultimately used as an augmented reality feature that replaces real clothes. Furthermore, if clothing-design softwares became a household product it would enable millions of people to run wild with their imagination while spending zero resources on attire. True, augmented reality isn’t likely to penetrate the mainstream market in the immediate future, but it isn’t light-years away from us either, and we would greatly benefit from beginning to visualise its potential contributions to society—as far as fashion is concerned.
Virtual fashion is on a trajectory that can only be expected to accelerate and expand over the next few years. It remains to be seen whether it will live up to its ideal of rendering the fashion industry more sustainable or simply fuel the social-media inferno of brand and image-building.