philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Digital ‘clothes’ could be the next big Instagram hit

“Of course (we were) inspired by the gaming industry, games like ‘Fortnite’ and the whole virtual ‘skinning’ of your avatar. And that’s what you’ll also have on web shops 10 years ahead, digital clothing, that’s what we pitched to them basically.” The response? “It’s too risky,” Grubak explained.

But after Virtue held a second meeting with Carlings, something hit a nerve. “I spoke to my daughter, she’s 12 years-old and I told her about this, and she made me realize that it’s not that strange actually, it’s not that far fetched or science fiction. People are buying skins, people are using filters on social media and so on,” Mikalsen said.

Carlings’ digital clothes start at 10 euros ($9.06) for a headband and go up to 30 euros for a long oversized shiny nylon puffer jacket printed with computer code lettering. Customers upload a photo and a designer will “dress” them virtually. Once they get their outfit, they can “brag to your friends,” on social media, per Carlings suggestion. The clothes are never made in the real world and have been produced purely for the digital realm.

These virtual outfits look certain to up wearers’ credibility on Instagram, Mikalsen added. “We created a new way of thinking for the fashion industry, for the consumers, we know we have a lot of influencers out there creating this fake reality that is not available for the everyday boy or girl,” he said.

Having boasting rights seems to be the main motivation behind buying virtual goods. Seventy-nine percent of paying gamers in the U.S. spent money on in-game items in 2018, according to Newzoo. These include virtual clothes, where within games such as “Fortnite,” certain outfits are seen as status symbols. Kids even use the term “default” as a real-life putdown, referring to the generic clothes the video game assigns characters.

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