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Physical pop-up offering only digital clothing opens in London

By Huw Hughes

18 Nov 2019

A physical pop-up store allowing shoppers to try on digital clothes has opened in London with the aim of changing people's attitudes and feelings towards digital fashion.

The pop-up by digital startup Hot:Second is open at Protein Studios in Shoreditch from 19 to 21 November and allows visitors to immersively experience digital fashion garments from brands pioneering the non-physical fashion movement, including The Fabricant, Carlings, Virtue and Christopher Raeburn.

To enter the pop-up, which has been launched in collaboration with innovation studio Holition and 3D artist Emily Switzer, guests are asked to donate an “unloved” garment to an instalment inside the pop-up by Love Not Landfill, a campaign which encourages people to donate their unwanted clothes to charity instead of throwing them away.

After donating, a token is offered to visitors which grants entry to one of the futuristic “pods”, inside which a human “digital tailor” helps visitors try on a variety of digital fashion garments through the use of a “mixed reality magic mirror” made by Holition. After trying on the digital pieces, visitors will get to take home digital copies of the look as well as one physical print.

Visitors can also bring their worn clothes to customisation stations inside the pop-up where independent artists such as Frankie Noller and Giulio Miglietta will give them a new lease of life, further encouraging circularity through upcycling.

London pop-up champions digital fashion

Kerry Murphy, founder of Dutch digital fashion house The Fabricant, which designed one of the looks at the pop-up, said: “The project is another step towards a more sustainable fashion industry by creating an experience that reduces the physical need of clothing while allowing for new business models to be tested outside of the gaming focus, purely transforming fashion towards its digital-only experience.”

Scandanavian retailer Carlings, which also has a look at the London pop-up, created a limited-edition digital fashion collection in 2018 which sold out in just a week. Commenting on the pop-up, CEO Ronny Mikalsen said: “We got involved first and foremost because we loved the project one hundred percent. Both the innovative and sustainable aspect within it really plays along with our values. We see it part of our responsibility to contribute towards projects that do that.”

The idea for the new innovative space was initially thought up by Hot:Second founder and academic Karinna Nobbs, whose field research revealed there were many misconceptions about digital fashions and its positive implications for the wider fashion industry. A recent UK survey she undertook with One Pulse revealed that 38 percent of people were unfamiliar with the term digital fashion, while 60 percent were curious about the concept.

Additionally, 27 percent said they thought interacting with digital garments could help them decide whether to buy the physical garment and 22 percent thought that digital fashion could offer a way for them to enjoy fashion in a more sustainable way. Whilst the store is open the research will be ongoing and the insights gained will be jointly published with Protein in early 2020.

David Segal, digital manager at Raeburn Design, said: “We are always looking to innovate but also disrupt and challenge the industry as we know it, it therefore made perfect sense for us to get involved in Hot:Second. Digital clothing has real potential to drive responsible design and our inherent agility also allows us to be flexible with these ideas and, of course to learn.”

The next evolution of Hot:Second is planned to debut at Berlin Fashion Week in January 2020 in collaboration with blockchain company Lukso.

Photo courtesy of Hot:Second