NFT Art History: How a Viral Iridescence Dress Made NFT Couture more Accessible

Here’s a mini-lesson if you’re feeling whiplash from how fast fashion has impacted the blockchain.

The rise of “digi-couture” and digital fashion was arguably pioneered by the viral success of the Iridescence dress by The Fabricant in 2019.The digital garment made it easier for people to understand fashion’s potential on the blockchain.

NFT Dress 1

The dress was originally called “Technogenesis”, and that makes sense when we hear what Amber Jae Slooten, creative director at The Fabricant quotes,

“A new cult is rising. The digital world is coming and we are no longer bound to physical space. Our bodies are becoming fluid, our money decentralized, and new powers are being formed. We are moving into a non-dual operating system. Intrinsic new patterns are being formed by systems that are closer to our nature by evolving rather than being controlled by a central power. This outfit provides a look into the future.” 

The Concept of an Open Web

If a little conceptual in nature, her quote gets to the heart of the potential that sits at the center of the future of fashion and the recent hype around “drop culture”.

When we talk about a “decentralized” Web 3.0, it helps to contextualize what the “centralized” web is – platforms controlled by large corporations and where there are limitations on the technology. For example, Instagram and Snapchat act as a middleman between us and our content. Instagram is notorious for its staunch position on the censorship of the female nipple and its consistent takedown of nude art as a violation of their community guidelines. 

It’s no secret that these platforms have broken our trust again and again when it comes to data privacy, and each platform comes with its own set of rules and restrictions on what we can and cannot share–not to mention the fact that the content we do share on most of these platforms may take on a life of its own, through reposts and content farming. 

Those photos you post to Instagram? In their terms and conditions, they don’t technically own your photos, but they do own “non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use [user’s] content”.

This is what we mean when we talk about the “closed” web. 

Once someone purchases an NFT on the blockchain, that person becomes the sole owner. It is the only one of its kind, so there is no fear of it becoming a reprinted, pixelated, copy-pasted faraway version.

It also becomes “open”, which means developers can use the purchased asset and change it without asking permission. For example, once the new owner of The Iridescence dress made her purchase, she had the dress tailored digitally to fit her.

NFT Dress 3

In a quote after her digital tailoring session, she said, 

“I had to imagine what it would look like to wear the dress. There was a huge element of surprise that you wouldn’t get with physical garments. It is like a green screen, you have to imagine what it will look like since the dress will be added in post-production. Of course, this was the first of its kind, but I would love to be able to use the dress more often, and wear it wherever I like, not just limited to the pictures I got, but it should be something I can endlessly use over the pictures being taken so I can wear it in different situations. In the future, it would help if digital clothing could be cheaper than physical clothing, so the element of pricing would be more attractive for people to purchase a digital item instead of a physical one,” she said.

The potential of using digital garments instead of physical ones can pave the way for luxury fashion in the future. Labels and brand names have become status symbols–and where else to show them off than in the digital world, before millions of users? 

Virtual Dressing Rooms can Revolutionize Shopping

Another option that has cropped up acts as a median between digital fashion and physical fashion– a virtual dressing room. These offer potential customers a way to see how a garment looks on them, without committing to a new purchase, and could be the answer to high return rates for e-commerce purchases. 

Filters on Instagram and Snapchat have dipped their toes into specific filters for trying on shades of lipstick and eyeshadow. AR seems to have a long way to go when it comes to perfect, true-to-life fitting for the average customer. Tech development for clothes shopping in a “dressing room” seems to have stalled, but great potential for waste reduction remains.

For now, the technology seems to be heading in the right direction. In 2019,  the summer of Pokemon Go was when many people experienced AR for the first time. Amazon currently has a function through its app where you can place pieces of furniture in your room to see how it would fit before ordering through Amazon AR View. 

The Iridescence dress sparked a conversation about digital fashion that continues to have a ripple effect even today, as many major fashion houses begin to launch collections of digital garments. 

We have yet to see the environmental and sustainability impact that this will have on the fashion industry. However, only time will tell how they plan to offset the high-energy cost of NFT creation. 



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