The idea that we'd all actually be shopping for digital clothes would've seemed outlandish just a few years ago—why buy garments you can't actually hold, touch or wear? As the world finally woke up to the industry's impact on the environment, however, the concept doesn't seem so farfetched now.
Despite innovations in eco-friendly technology and ethically sourced fibers (upcycling seems to be the trend du jour), no "sustainable" collection is inherently, well, sustainable. Between physical deliveries, shipping and just plain more stuff, you're still producing thing people don't necessarily need.
Which is why the timing of a label like Tribute Brand is all the more intriguing. Specializing in "contactless cyber fashion," the clothes are available for literally any gender, sex or size. It's perhaps the most radical example of sustainable fashion yet. "We strongly believe that digital clothing is the future we should embrace," the brand states.
While still in its early stages, Tribute Brand is been slowly gaining more recognition on Instagram as creatives like Nicola Formichetti and Prince Dru showed off their new digital wares. But these aren't your everyday wardrobe pieces: the avant-garde-meets-futuristic-street-style-outer-space aesthetic is definitely a crowd-pleaser for the risk-taking, fashion fiends among us. You can also easily order a custom piece to your liking.
The functionality is quite simple as well. Once you add the digital items to your cart, all you have to do is upload an image of yourself via Dropbox, Google Drive or a similar service and share the link with the images in the box located in the shopping cart, which the brand will use to digitally fit the item on your frame.
The founders, who all come from backgrounds in fashion, CGI 3D modeling, UX design and coding, understand how novel this approach is. But with everyone stuck in their homes the past few months amid all that's been going on in the world, it couldn't have come at a better moment.
"With the recent events and the crisis occurring throughout the world, the needed process of changing the system became inevitable and we are excited to join the pioneers of this new phase," they said.
PAPER caught up with the anonymous group behind the brand to learn more about their process and why it could shape up to be how more of us dress in the future. See also a contactless fashion shoot in collaboration with models from New Pandemics, a New York-based modeling agency "dedicated to increasing LGBTQ+ visibility."
How did the idea for Tribute Brand come about and who are the creators behind the platform?
Before launching Tribute Brand, we were running a successful and awarded fashion label that was mostly oriented towards fashion criticism and irony. So even from the beginnings, we were always going for changing the fashion system which, as we all know, has gone the wrong way and needed someone to push the reset button. And then [COVID-19] happened.
At the same time, the city where our HQ's are located, was struck by a large earthquake that caused significant damage and we had to move back to our hometown. That was the moment we realized it's the right time for a shift, an idea we've been working on since 2017. People are in isolation and can't go everywhere, let's give them a chance to be in fashion, but contactless and cyber, and to make them understand its main values: no waste, no shipping, no gender and size restrictions, and available in the virtual space only.
Our team is formed out of people with a background in fashion, CGI 3D modeling, UX design and coding, and most of us have known each other for a while. After our first brand, we admire the idea of anonymity behind the brand, and that whole cyber moment is giving it another dimension.
Can you describe in detail the process and software behind fitting a digital outfit on someone?
It's quite a simple process. The customers get to choose cyber garments, just as it would choose them through a regular online store, and then, they have to upload an image of themselves on which they want the cyber garment to be fitted. Everything you see there was designed and developed from our real-life patterns.
Afterwards, we pull everything through the 3D software and then the customers receive CGI images of themselves wearing the desired cyber garment. Of course, we can combine pieces, and make the whole outfits. For now, most of the garments are limited to 100 uploads, which means, they will be sold-out after that number is reached and there won't be restock.
The other thing we offer are custom orders. If anyone has an idea for a digital garment, or wants something physical transferred into digital world, TB Taylor Made Cyber Services are available.
"We want to create a platform that will change [users'] behavior to act sustainably, leading to decrease in demand, consequently production and usage of physical clothes."
What sort of observations have you made about customers' orders and other feedback in these early stages?
We've been overwhelmed by the feedback we are getting! We started low-key a month ago and didn't do any announcements through our public profiles. Another amazing part is, that we don't just receive orders from users wanting to try the clothes on themselves, but we get the orders for projects people want to incorporate cyber clothes into.
So just imagine where all of this could go. For example, virtual fashion shootings, and that already happened in a way. Based on the reactions we see our customers are getting on their fits, it is true that cyber clothing is a perfect way to create great content.
What's it going to take for more people to embrace digital fashion?
It is all about acknowledging its zero-waste and contactless character. And you know, fashion got unoriginal and repetitive for the last couple of years, maybe a decade. This is a new thing at the moment, but we believe, with technology development, it could become mainstream very soon. This is the only fully sustainable approach to fashion, and not to even talk about the possibilities digital clothing could have compared to regular clothing. The impossible is becoming possible and the virtual space is our main resource of getting and creating new content and knowledge. We think this an evolutional process, and it's just a matter of time.
Where do you hope to take the brand as it continues to grow?
We've already got our second drop ready, and it is our plan to update the platform with the new products on a regular base. But in general, by influencing the users to transfer their identity to virtual area we want to create a platform that will change their behavior to act sustainably, leading to decrease in demand, consequently production and usage of physical clothes.
We aim to make the fashion system more accessible and fairer, and aspire to change behaviors. Let's just work and see what the future of fashion and technology will bring us. And we are more than happy to collaborate with people and brands involved and interested in transferring outdated fashion principles into a new phase.