Gucci leads designer brands in growing trend toward digital outfits

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Gucci is no longer designing for just the runway and the red carpet: These days, the high-end designer brand is also designing with digital platforms in mind, betting on gamers shelling out real cash for their digital characters to wear Gucci clothes.

According to Fast Company, the Italian fashion house has partnered with several mobile games including Drest and Tennis Clash, allowing players to outfit their avatars in high-end Gucci designs.

While some of this digital fashion is free — and is mostly just good exposure and advertising for the brand — in some cases, users are spending actual money for outfits that they will never actually own in real life, only online. 

Gone digital: Gucci is no longer designing for just the runway and the red carpet: These days, the high-end designer brand is also designing with digital platforms in mind

Gone digital: Gucci is no longer designing for just the runway and the red carpet: These days, the high-end designer brand is also designing with digital platforms in mind

The Italian fashion house has partnered with several mobile games including Drest and Tennis Clash, allowing players to outfit their avatars in Gucci

The Italian fashion house has partnered with several mobile games including Drest and Tennis Clash, allowing players to outfit their avatars in Gucci

Chic: The Italian fashion house has partnered with several mobile games including Drest and Tennis Clash, allowing players to outfit their avatars in Gucci

Play time: Gucci creatives have considered online gaming while designing clothes for about five years now, and debuted an arcade section with games in its own mobile app last year

Play time: Gucci creatives have considered online gaming while designing clothes for about five years now, and debuted an arcade section with games in its own mobile app last year

Gucci creatives have considered online gaming while designing clothes for about five years now, and debuted an arcade section with games in its own mobile app last year.

‘The worlds of fashion and gaming are colliding,’ CMO Robert Triefus said.  

Gucci has also partnered with Wildlife, which makes the game Tennis Clash — where players can participate in the Gucci Open while using Gucci-branded tennis clothes and accessories. 

Gamers can deck their players out in a digital version of the brand’s tennis-themed collection, including a $2,300 jacket and a $690 T-shirt. 

The styling game Drest, which was created by former Harper’s Bazaar U.K. editor-in-chief Lucy Yeomans, is also a partner. In Drest, players put together looks for supermodels, using real designer items — which they buy in the app.  

Much of the appeal is advertising: Users get more exposure to designs in games, and may be more likely to purchase them in the real world. 

Cash in: Much of the appeal is advertising: Users get more exposure to designs in games, and may be more likely to purchase them in the real world

Cash in: Much of the appeal is advertising: Users get more exposure to designs in games, and may be more likely to purchase them in the real world

Serving looks: Gucci has also partnered with Wildlife, which makes the game Tennis Clash — where players can participate in the Gucci Open while using Gucci-branded tennis clothes

Serving looks: Gucci has also partnered with Wildlife, which makes the game Tennis Clash — where players can participate in the Gucci Open while using Gucci-branded tennis clothes

‘Right now, gaming offers the opportunity to create experiences for our community. But at the same time, they provide opportunity to give visibility to new products. You might enjoy dressing yourself in a certain outfit in a game, then buy it,’ Triefus said. 

‘It’s creating an even stronger attachment, because people feel like they are closer to the brand. Customers feel like they are having a shared experience, and co-creating with Gucci.’

But it’s not just about exposure. Many people are willing to spend money in their gaming, and some are happy to splash out cash on digital fashion that will only every exist in the game, never in their closets.

‘The virtual world is creating its own economy,’ Triefus said. ‘Virtual items have value because of their own scarcity, and because they can be sold and shared.’

While Triefus didn’t reveal any figures about what customers have spent on digital-only Gucci, other brands have added real money to their bottom line form in-game sales. 

Cost: Many people are willing to spend money in their gaming, and some are happy to splash out cash on digital fashion that will only every exist in the game, never in their closets

Cost: Many people are willing to spend money in their gaming, and some are happy to splash out cash on digital fashion that will only every exist in the game, never in their closets

Dress up: Some styling games let users put together outfits in the app — and they can buy the pieces for the avatars

Dress up: Some styling games let users put together outfits in the app — and they can buy the pieces for the avatars

Dress up: Some styling games let users put together outfits in the app — and they can buy the pieces for the avatars

For example, a mobile game called Aglet lets users buy sneakers from big brands including Nike, Chanel, and Balenciaga. One user spent $2,400 on a single pair of virtual sneakers, while another has spent $15,000 total in the game. 

Another game, Covet Fashion, has users buy clothes by real brands and designers to dress up for styling contests. While much of the virtual cash in the game can be earned from frequent usage and winning contests, users can also spend real money to purchase more buying power within the app.

Brands including Virgil Abloh, Hermes, and Estée Lauder have launched mobile games as well.

Next up, Gucci is launching a new platform where users can design and virtually try on their own Gucci sneakers.

Called Sneaker Garage, the app will feature digital items that can’t be bought in the real world, and players can share their designs on social media.

Incentive: Gucci CMO Robert Triefus said the in-app fashions create 'strong attachment' to the designs - and will prompt some users to buy them in real life

Incentive: Gucci CMO Robert Triefus said the in-app fashions create ‘strong attachment’ to the designs – and will prompt some users to buy them in real life 

Stay tuned: Next up, Gucci is launching a new platform where users can design and virtually try on their own Gucci sneakers

Stay tuned: Next up, Gucci is launching a new platform where users can design and virtually try on their own Gucci sneakers

Skeptics of the appeal of online-only fashion can also turn to Tribute Brand, a Croatian label founded by designers Filip Vajda and Gala Marija Vrbanic.

Tribute Brand advertises cyber outfits, or ‘contactless fashion,’ which customers can buy for actual money but will never physically receive.

Instead, the digital clothing is edited onto a photo of a customer and sent back to them, so they can share it on social media.

With prices ranging from $29 for most items to $699 for its exclusive ‘Zesy’ shirt, the brand uses CGI 3D modeling, UX design, and coding to edit photos so customers look like they’re wearing the Tribute Brand clothes.

Faux clothes: Tribute Brand is selling what it calls 'contactless fashion' — that is, digital clothing that will be edited onto a photo of a customer

Faux clothes: Tribute Brand is selling what it calls ‘contactless fashion’ — that is, digital clothing that will be edited onto a photo of a customer

The  Croatian label founded by designers Filip Vajda and Gala Marija Vrbanic sells images of clothes — like this one, which costs $699

The  Croatian label founded by designers Filip Vajda and Gala Marija Vrbanic sells images of clothes — like this one, which costs $699

Customers who purchase an item submit a picture of themselves

The brand uses CGI technology to edit the fashion item onto the photo

Click click pose: Customers who purchase an item submit a picture of themselves, and the brand uses CGI technology to edit the fashion item onto the photo

Money to burn? The customers never receive physical clothing, just an image of them 'wearing' it, but each item does cost actual money

Money to burn? The customers never receive physical clothing, just an image of them ‘wearing’ it, but each item does cost actual money 

Most items go for $29, including the Boca pants (pictured)

Clearly designed with the Instagram age in mind, Tribute Brand's clothes are never actually manufactured, but only digitally rendered in images

Not so pricey: Most items go for $29, including the Boca pants (left) and Pepa pants (right), which come in three colors

Clearly designed with the Instagram age in mind, Tribute Brand’s clothes are never actually manufactured, but only digitally rendered in images.

But though buyers will never receive the clothes they buy in the mail, and can never actually wear them in real life, they do cost actual cash.

Most items go for $29, including rose gold or blue Triba bell bottoms, pink Kata pants, and a silver or black Mica shirt with drawn-on abs.

For $39, customers can buy a metallic green Terasa shirt — or rather, they could, before it sold out — and $99 bought a bizarre gold or silver ribbon top called Hot Stuff before it, too, sold out.

But the most expensive item of all is the Zesy shirt, which for $699 comes in red or green and has short sleeves and a collar. 

Going, going, gone! Each item has a limited issue. For most, only 100 pieces can be purchased before it sells out

Going, going, gone! Each item has a limited issue. For most, only 100 pieces can be purchased before it sells out

The idea at least makes some sense for influencers who only get new clothes to wear for social media snaps

It does seem that the brand has already found a few to model their wares

The idea at least makes some sense for influencers who only get new clothes to wear for social media snaps — and it does seem that the brand has already found a few to model their wares

Make believe: This bizarre ribbon piece cost $99 before it sold out

Make believe: This bizarre ribbon piece cost $99 before it sold out

Popular: This Bala dress has already been purchased by a few people

Popular: This Bala dress has already been purchased by a few people

Like the other items available from the brand, the Zesy shirt has a limited issue — in this case, only three can be bought, presumably to make it more in-demand.

Most of the other items have a limited issue of 100 pieces. 

On the brand’s website, the designers ay that they ‘strongly believe that digital clothing is the future we should embrace’. 

‘With no need for physical deliveries and production, it is available without restrictions for any gender, sex or size,’ the site reads.

‘By influencing the users to transfer their identity to virtual area, this platform aims to change their behavior to act sustainably, leading to decrease of the demand, consequently production and usage of physical clothes. 

Future: On the brand's website, the designers ay that they ' strongly believe that digital clothing is the future we should embrace'

Future: On the brand’s website, the designers ay that they ‘ strongly believe that digital clothing is the future we should embrace’

'With no need for physical deliveries and production, it is available without restrictions for any gender, sex or size,' the site reads

‘With no need for physical deliveries and production, it is available without restrictions for any gender, sex or size,’ the site reads

Taking off: Designer Nicola Formichetti, best known for his work with Lady Gaga, also 'wore' an outfit from the brand, and collaborated on designing his own items

Taking off: Designer Nicola Formichetti, best known for his work with Lady Gaga, also ‘wore’ an outfit from the brand, and collaborated on designing his own items

Ripped: This top, which comes in silver and gold, has faux abs printed on

Ripped: This top, which comes in silver and gold, has faux abs printed on

Taking off: Paper magazine included several pieces in an editorial earlier this summer

Taking off: Paper magazine included several pieces in an editorial earlier this summer

‘We aim to improve the societal impact of the fashion market, making it more accessible and fairer, and aspire to change behaviors in an only fully sustainable way.’  

The idea at least makes some sense for influencers who only get new clothes to wear for social media snaps — and it does seem that the brand has already found a few to model their wares.

Instagram photos show several influencers wearing items from the brand, as well as editors for Vanity Fair and Paper magazine. Paper magazine even included several pieces in an editorial earlier this summer.

Designer Nicola Formichetti, best known for his work with Lady Gaga, also ‘wore’ an outfit from the brand, and collaborated on designing his own items.

Realistic: Thanks to the editing technology, the clothing can be edited onto men and women in any pose

Realistic: Thanks to the editing technology, the clothing can be edited onto men and women in any pose

Realistic: Thanks to the editing technology, the clothing can be edited onto men and women in any pose

How to: The brand also has a 'fit guide' on its site — which explains how to take a picture to send to the brand

How to: The brand also has a ‘fit guide’ on its site — which explains how to take a picture to send to the brand

For regular shoppers, the brand also has a ‘fit guide’ online — but unlike other fashion brands, who use that to help customers see how garments will fit, the Tribute Brand fit guide gives instructions for how to best take pictures to be fitted with images of the clothes they buy. 

One customer to shell out real money is Joe Garcia, a stylist from Pasadena, California, who bought a silver top and green pants for $29 each.

‘I get people asking me where I got those pants when they see my picture,’ the 38-year-old told Fox News. ‘They don’t even realize that they’re cyber.’

Garcia said that he send the company ‘a good selfie and another full-body one’ that he already had on his phone, and within five days, he had an edited photo back.  

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