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Over the course of Monday 30th and Tuesday 31st October, the first-ever New Codes Digital Fashion summit was held at the Royal Institution in London’s Mayfair.
The event promised, and turned out to be, an important meeting point for all manner of stakeholders in the world of digital fashion, encompassing the likes of artificial intelligence (AI) experts, figures from the fashion design and gaming industries, and – of course – many a brand looking to optimise its Web3 strategy for the 2020s.
With Allied Market Research having forecast that the global digital fashion sector could reach a value of $4.8 billion by 2031 – compared to the “mere” $498.7 million valuation of 2021 – it should be increasingly obvious to fashion brands that they cannot overlook this rapidly evolving ecosystem.
Taking this as our cue, what were three things that emerged from the New Codes Digital Fashion event, that certain observers would be well-advised to keep in mind?
Web3 fashion is far from “dead”
Yes, that is a word we are daring to use, and that critics of such solutions as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the metaverse were quick to reference after the cooling of the earlier hype surrounding these technologies in 2022.
But in the words of Afrofuturist singer Janelle Monae, who has been the subject of a few NFTs herself in her time: “Whether you’re high or low, you gotta tip on the tightrope.” And let’s be honest; many detractors have fallen off their own tightropes in their eagerness to declare NFTs and related tech to have finished their boom-and-bust cycle.
Or to put it in the words of The Fabricant’s Chief Technology Officer, Marco Marchesi: “With these technologies, it takes a lot of cycles for new ideas to take off and be adopted. The reality is that it’s not completely figured out yet, and it’s going to take a lot of these cycles before it finds a steady ground.”
Generative AI is causing massive disruption – but it is disruption the fashion sector should embrace
As we wrote about ourselves recently here at Skywire London, generative AI is already exerting profound impacts on the fashion world. However, this sector has also so far been reticent about acknowledging the sheer level of disruption the technology has brought – and its positive potential.
AI is already playing a key role in helping fashion brands to predict customer behaviour and trends in the weeks and months ahead, so that they can bring to the market items that customers will actually buy, with minimal wastage across the supply chain.
If there is any particular fear surrounding AI in the fashion sector, however, it is evident in the questions that have been raised as to whether the technology could supplant creative roles in the industry, such as designers, image makers, and pattern cutters.
Digital artist Stephy Fung summed up much of the mood among the AI optimists in the fashion industry, with her declaration – as quoted by Jing Daily – that “when we use AI, we might take on the role of art directors and creative directors, but AI can’t replicate what’s inside our brain. That curation has to come from us.”
Now is the time for fashion brands to adapt, and to get creative with the basics
What, exactly, are the “basics” when it comes to the digital fashion and Web3 strategy of a particular brand? Well, that is largely our point.
A brand knowing how to use a Discord server, for example, could be a powerful move when it comes to stealing a march on its competitors, as technologies that were once novel become fundamental “entry-level” elements for those aspiring to make a meaningful impact in digital fashion.
We say “meaningful”, because no brand should be attempting to engage with Web3 technologies merely because other brands are doing so. There still needs to be long-term, authentic foundations put in place to aid a brand’s efforts to thrive in the fast-developing digital fashion sphere, beyond attempts to use such tech as a revenue generator.
Do you have the right plans in place for the coordination of your fashion, luxury, or lifestyle brand’s successful ventures into Web3? If you have any doubt about that, our team at Skywire London would be delighted to assist; please feel free to reach out to our digital and strategic experts for further information and advice.
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