Digital design has allowed for new doors to be opened for designers and creators looking to enter the fashion industry through alternate means. Despite tools and technology continuing to develop for this fairly new method of creation, the medium comes with almost limitless design opportunities and provides creators with a free range of exploration.
Many especially took to this form of fashion digitalisation during the pandemic, when working from home became a norm and issues around sustainability and the climate were heightened. For those who did, it became not necessarily a replacement for traditional design but an extension of their work, offering another route to explore their design identity in a more open format.
FashionUnited spoke to three digital designers making waves in the industry on how they began, how they have translated their values and where they see the digitisation of fashion in the future.
Davina India: ‘Digitalisation can’t be stopped’
German-based designer Davina India’s work sees the merging of futuristic and organic shapes as she draws inspiration from the art of nature and by imaging what life on other planets could look like. Her path to digital design stemmed from her love for avant-garde silhouettes, an interest she discovered during her Fashion Design study. The clothing shapes she wished to make were not malleable from conventional materials, she told FashionUnited, so she took to the world of digital 3D design, an area she had not yet explored, as she strived to experiment and create garments that were independent from the laws of physics.
When comparing digital design to that of the physical, India said it gave her endless opportunities and freedom in her design process. When building a piece up, for example, she explained that new ideas that could change the shape could still be implemented, giving her experimental freedom. “The future is digital,” she said, on the importance of this method. “Digitalisation can’t be stopped. Sooner or later it will influence every part of our life. You can even buy digital land these days, so I guess we can also imagine what the future will look like. In the case of fashion, it is and will be the most sustainable way to create fashion.”
Although her designs can not yet be bought, she said that there were a number of photographers, stylists and magazines that had expressed an interest in her digital clothing and editing on the human body. When asked how she envisioned the future of her work, India noted that she is looking to develop her design in both physical and digital spaces, adding: “I would like to produce my digital pieces also in real life. That includes accessories and more. We will see what comes.”
Xtended Identity: ‘Our aim is to extend everyone’s identity’
Xtended Identity is best described as a female-led digital design lab, co-founded by creative trio Yunjia Xing, Ziqi Xing and Aria Bao after they met during a Masters degree in London. The collective came together to develop a digital showroom for their work after covid-related difficulties meant they struggled to showcase their design. It was then they began to realise the breadth of what digitalisation could do, with Ziqi Xing noting: “It is actually opening more possibilities and opportunities for young designers.”
While the group is currently prioritising building up their brand image, they are continuing to explore their mythical design aesthetic, often characterised through pastel hues and fantasy-like shapes – elements that Xing, the designer of the group, said have naturally fit with the audience that has discovered them. “We can design things that don’t really exist, that go against gravity, time and space,” Xing noted. “Our aim is to extend everyone’s identity and their digital footprint.”
Users are able to wear the group’s digital apparel and clothing through real-time augmented reality (AR) filters, a medium the trio believes has a lot to offer and something Xing said they would continue to work with in the future. According to the designer, AR tools have also allowed the group to work towards their goal of developing ‘phygital’ products, an element that has been prominent in past collaborations with other brands and designers, seeing them bringing physical items to life in the digital world.
Now, the collective is preparing for the launch of a non-fungible token (NFT) in what will be their first exploration of Web3, while also looking towards the future and where they will stand in both the gaming and fashion industries. For Xing, the most important factor is that they strongly represent women and the LGBTQ community in the digital landscape, expressing their values and efforts for a diverse audience. “We want to build a solid ecosystem for our audiences and our brand,” Xing concluded.
Yimeng Yu: ‘It can break the boundaries of the physical world’
For Yimeng Yu, digital methodology has always played a big role in her research at various stages of her career. It specifically contributed to her time as an independent artist, during which she collaborated with a number of companies, brands and magazines. However, as the pandemic unfolded, her core attention started to turn to digitalisation as she began to realise the endless possibilities that came with digital tools. “It was an interdisciplinary practice,” she added.
Since exploring the realm of digital design, Yu’s overview of the space has expanded, as she finds that the limitless experimentation that comes with it can free her imagination. “It can break the boundaries of the physical world to innovate artistic language in terms of textures, structures, silhouettes and so on,” she said. “At the same time, it provides a sustainable way to greatly improve design efficiency and is also able to link to intelligent manufacturing and accurate counterpoint production.”
Her otherworldly work, which mostly attracts those from the creative and cultural industries, centres around the aesthetic of ‘Parametric Nature’. Yu’s use of artificial editing contrasts that of forms that appear to have been naturally grown, through which she said she has used ‘order’ to create ‘disorder’. Speaking on her designs, Yu commented: “From my work, you can see the symbiosis between artificial and nature, the combination of machinery and biology, and the collision between rationality and sensibility.”
In the future, the young creative hopes to continue making digital fashion a part of her research by focusing on computation design and digital fabrication as the core. She additionally is hoping to expand her practice from fashion into more interdisciplinary fields and innovate new application scenes.