By Cheyenne van Dreumel & Leroy Leijtens
More and more we are blurring the lines between physical and digital realities. The world has been playing games like Sims for the past 21 years, could it be that we are becoming Sims ourselves?
In May 2019, a dress by Dutch brand The Fabricant was sold for $9,500 during a blockchain conference. The only thing different about this dress is that it physically does not exist. This dress is digital, meaning it is a virtual 3D rendered piece of clothing that only exists in the digital world. However new and groundbreaking this might sound, digital fashion is not a new phenomenon.
In 2018 The Fabricant was established. The world’s first digital fashion house created by Amber Slooten, a graduate of the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. Currently, digital fashion is mainly implemented for by brands in advertising or used on digital avatars. Nonetheless, there are several retailers already selling digital garments for you to ‘’try on’’ or to use in photographs. The idea behind digital fashion is a more sustainable aspect where one does not need new pieces of clothing for every shoot or other media production. What used to take months for the designers can now be completed in days or even in hours. However, Amber’s future vision is one where a digital expression of ourselves knows no limits. She envisions a future where we all wear our smart glasses or smart lenses and see each other in our digital versions.
From virtual fantasy to reality
When speaking of digital identities, virtual influencers Lil Miquela, Shudu, and Nfon – aren’t limited by genetics or reality; they can take any form their creators envision. Virtual influencer Lil Miquela has a following of over one million on Instagram, she has a pop-star-like career, is a political activist, and identifies as a queer/bisexual woman. This example is closest to having a digital identity since Lil Miquela lives a full digital life created by human beings. Similar to sims, it is as if her creators are living their dream lives through a digital avatar.
The Metaverse, a virtual world for one to wander around, meet friends and go to events, is an immersive 3D virtual world where a digital version, your avatar, will live. Meetings, courses, hangouts, playing games, and yes, even online weddings happened last year and the Metaverse will only become more prominent in our lives. More events are held in the Metaverse which millions of avatars are visiting. However, there is a shift happening where the Metaverse is also being used for more than events only. Job interviews, education, business meetings, many physical aspects of our lives are taken over by an immersive online experience in the Metaverse. It is like the Metaverse is becoming our second world. It not only is a good alternative during lockdowns, but it is also an escape from daily reality.
Another digital space can be found on Gather, a video-chat environment that has been described as “Minecraft meets Zoom. Gather allows you to walk around a virtual environment using an avatar controlled by the arrow keys on your computer. As you approach other guests, you are able to video-chat with them.
Personal preference heaven
When we are spending our time in a digital realm our digital identity obviously needs a place to live. Designer Andres Reisinger provides digital living spaces that have a high-end designer style. At the beginning of this year, his digital furniture was sold at a blockchain auction for a total of almost half a million dollars. All these digital worlds and objects might sound like a far-fetched idea. However, the increase in popularity, brands adopting the technologies, and the high numbers in sales are proving that this might become our new reality sooner than one might think.
One thing is clear: creativity is thriving in the digital world. The limits that we experience in the physical world are eliminated in the digital realm. The possibilities are endless when creating an identity, a living space, basically a whole universe. One can let their imagination run wild and be the most extravagant version of themselves, just like using cheat codes whilst playing Sims. We are in a digital renaissance and you are the creator.
The digital world is constantly changing and evolving. 2020 has accelerated many technological trends and developments linked to digitalisation. Due to the pandemic, the majority of us mainly lived our lives online more than ever before. Although social distancing is what we all have been dreading for so long, it has brought us many insights into what the future of our digital lives might look like.