Five fashion brands with digital-only collections

Five fashion brands with digital-only collections
Louis Vuitton released a capsule collection last year in collaboration with video game "League of Legends." Supplied
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Updated 05 July 2020

Five fashion brands with digital-only collections

Five fashion brands with digital-only collections
  • Sustainable style via clothes you’ll never actually wear– Is digital fashion the future of the industry?

DUBAI: Digital fashion is increasingly finding a place in the real-world strategy of global brands, and what it lacks in first-wear, feel-good endorphins, it makes up for in saving-the-environment smarts.

What is a digital fashion collection?

Essentially items that will never physically exist. Part creative outlet (dress your Bitmoji avatar in Alexander McQueen), part hypebeast flex (Fortnite’s “skins” are now must-have revenue-drivers) and part opportunity for the fashion world to address its environmental footprint. Crucially, while the industry has struggled to find scalability, digital-only collections represent a clear chance to reduce waste.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

@burberry by @earlburgos

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GQ Middle East’s fashion editor, Keanoush Zargham, believes that the concept is long overdue. “It’s vital for fashion brands to adopt a more sustainable way of thinking,” says Zargham. “And it’s great to see how they’re already thinking outside the norms of traditional runway shows, transforming the whole experience into a digital-first concept.”

Why should I consider buying digital fashion?

A cursory glance at your Instagram feed will reveal a host of once-worn “big fit” items that are quickly discarded. Consumers in 2020 buy more and use less, and the wastefulness of fast fashion has reached critical mass. Digital fashion means no items discarded, no material left on the cutting room floor and nothing destined for landfill. The question is, could it ever truly replace the physical element of the industry?

For Dubai-based fashion entrepreneur, Natalia Shustova, the sweet spot could lie somewhere in between worlds. “I don’t really believe in wearing a different item everyday just for social media,” she explains. “I prefer to curate a wardrobe. But the idea of wearing something a little futuristic and impractical to express my creativity – with zero production and waste – then, yes, I would love to try it and purchase digitally.”

While digital fashion collections might remain a work-in-progress, some brands are ahead of the curve.

Louis Vuitton

The Parisian maison dipped a monogrammed toe into the world of digital collections in 2019. Along with a real-world Louis Vuitton x League of Legends capsule collection, people on the multiplayer video game could also purchase Nicolas Ghesquière-designed LV branded skins for around $10. Merging the two worlds, the maison recently included a digital bag for its 2020 Cruise collection.

Carlings

In 2018, this Scandinavian retailer dropped a genderless digital collection of 19 key pieces. Priced $11-33 and ranging from long cloud puffer jackets to metallic track tops, it was a collection made for digital influence. All you had to do was purchase online, upload your image, click for a digital fit and share. It was wildly popular and drop number two is expected soon.

The Fabricant

Inspired by design student Amber Slooten’s all-digital fashion portfolio, Finnish animator Kerry Murphy founded the brand in 2018 and they have since created digital collections for the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Puma and A Bathing Ape. Although items aren’t always available to the public, it did sell the world’s first digital dress for a staggering $9,500.

Happy99

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The brainchild of 3D artist Nathalie Nguyen, this virtual footwear collection is all manga spikes and cyberpunk style. Created more as a creative outlet than as a commercial interest, Nguyen has, so far, resisted requests to create in real time, leaving the brand as an ode to imagination and innovation.

Tommy Hilfiger

The PVH brand aims to fully embrace the digital world by 2021, with a mandate to avoid waste at all costs. While not exactly creating digital collections, Hilfiger will design and make samples digitally, only creating physical clothing for runway shows or when actually sold.

 


The Saudi startup that's taking a creative approach to humanitarian work

Updated 02 December 2020

The Saudi startup that's taking a creative approach to humanitarian work

The Saudi startup that's taking a creative approach to humanitarian work
  • Bab Boutique is helping refugees one stitch at a time

JEDDAH: Women refugees and others facing hardship on the margins are developing their creative talents with the help of a Saudi fashion startup.

Bab Boutique was established in 2016 to give marginalized communities the space and resources to invest in their creativity, and to encourage female refugees and others to celebrate their identity and culture.

The boutique describes itself as a “platform to celebrate stories of survival, striving and invisible success through handcrafted pieces created with care and love.”

Bab Boutique was initially set up by Rafah Sahab, Asma Aljifri, Hessa Alrubian, Mariam Alrubian and Fajer Burhamah as a therapeutic activity to support and help Syrian women who had fled their war-torn homeland.

Sahab, a psychotherapist, said that the boutique’s founders were driven by the belief that mental health is just as important as physical well-being.

“The plan was to provide traditional one-to-one therapy sessions during my visits to refugee camps or by securing funds for local therapists in hosting communities like Lebanon and Jordan,” said Sahab.

However, after a few visits, Sahab realized that many refugees were looking for a job, not mental health support.

“I was humbled by their grit and determination to find ways to provide for their children,” she said. “So we joined with local partners to give them a chance to express their creativity.”

Sahab decided to replace the therapy sessions with handicraft work since it was clear that lack of employment was affecting the refugees’ sense of dignity and self-respect.

In collaboration with the Thekra Organization in Jordan, Bab launched its first collection, “Stories of Syria,” which featured hand-embroidered bags in different sizes that celebrated aspects of Syrian culture, including weddings, and the wheat and olive harvests.

“We asked the refugees what we could learn from Syrian culture, and the women began sharing stories that they loved, and these were converted into drawings which the women then embroidered,” said Sahab.

“We took care of selling the collection in the GCC market.”

The market for Bab Boutique’s hand-embroidered products is bigger than many might think, and includes devotees of slow fashion, sustainability, handicraft and environmentally friendly products.

As their efforts began to bear fruit, the boutique’s co-founders discovered that far from being helpers and the refugees victims, the relationship was more cooperative, educational and insightful for both parties.

“We learned that these people have a lot that they can teach us; they have culture, art and creativity that we can benefit from,” said Sahab.

“They are not just refugees, they are people with dreams, potential, capacity, ideas and skills, as well as pain and disappointments. They’re just normal human beings.”

Sahab said that her work with refugees has taught her that “inside every one of us there is a divine power; there is flexibility, and the ability to be creative and overcome hardship.”

In collaboration with Jeddah-based artist Doa Bugis, Bab Boutique recently introduced “Migrating Birds,” a new collection of finely embroidered bags by Syrian refugees in Lebanon based on art pieces created by Bugis, whose works focus on exploring grief, loss, migration and hybrid identities.

“I have been an admirer of Bab for years. The Stories of Syria collection caught my eye and have drawn me into Bab’s own narrative, values and ethics,” said Bugis. “Knowing what they stand for, I said yes without giving it a second thought.

“Migrating Birds has been brewing in my head for years. I’ve always been interested in hybrid identities and spent about six years researching the subject,” Doa Bugis told Arab News.

“One of the main factors behind mixed identities is migration. It has been a phenomenon rooted in history. People have always relocated for better jobs, opportunities and living conditions. Whether the reasons were religious, economical or educational, uprooting yourself and your family is not an easy journey.”

Bugis sketched this narrative with words and then translated it visually. After many attempts she finally created an eye-catching miniature painting that combined Islamic art and calligraphy.

The finely embroidered bags feature images of birds, and phrases such as “In migration, there is loss and existence.”

Bab now hopes refugees can be valued for the cultural richness they bring with them.

“We want to change the fact that money and property is the judge for someone’s richness. You can be financially poor, but rich in culture and art; we want to make this shift,” Sahab said.

She said that the startup hopes to foster a new approach to humanitarian work that will give people the capacity to build for themselves and sustain their lives.

Bab plans to continue working with refugees on special lines and collections, but is also working on building communities both inside and outside the Kingdom.

“We believe that Bab is an imperfect project, an ever-evolving process of trial and error,” said Sahab.

“We have a growth mindset. We try to have patience and work slowly against societal and business industry expectations.”
 
Although social entrepreneurship is a new concept in the Saudi market, Sahab is optimistic about the future.

“Social businesses were not popular in the past. However, recently new regulations were set to support them. I expect a better future for social startups and social entrepreneurship.”  

Bab Boutique products are available online and at concept stores in Saudi Arabia. They can be found at https://babboutique.store and Instagram account @babboutique.me.