Pixels Not Fabric:
How Digital Fashion Minimizes Clothing Waste
3D dress made by Alexander Kurmanin. Photo credit: Alexander Kurmanin.
An Introduction to Digital Fashion
Digital fashion is clothing that is built using computer technology and 3D software, rather than sewing needles and fabric. For those who need a new outfit to post on their Instagram every day, digital fashion may be the ideal route to participate in sustainable fashion.
Alexander Kurmanin, a digital designer from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, has always had a love for fashion. “I knew that I would work in the fashion industry since childhood,” Kurmanin says. “My grandmother worked in a garment factory and I was always amazed at how clothes are born from fabric.”
Digital fashion created by Alexander Kurmanin. Photo credit: Alexander Kurmanin.
Kurmanin worked as a tailor for eight years, but during quarantine made the transition to digital fashion. He was inspired by the characters from video games like Death Stranding, and wanted to create digital designs that are just as “cool and conceptual.” This change ultimately provided Kurmanin with more opportunities and creative freedom. “I prefer to work in the digital world — it pays better and is much more fun,” Kurmanin says.
To create digital fashion designs, Kurmanin first imagines the clothes. He then sketches the design and finally creates a 3D model using the programs Clo3D and DAZ. Customers then send in an image or video and receive a brand new fit directly on their phones.
The benefits of digital fashion are truly endless. There is no need for excess waste and unused fabric when the stylish designs live on a screen. According to DressX, the largest digital fashion store, the “production of a digital garment emits 97% less of CO2 than production of a physical garment.”
Digital design and texture made by Alexander Kurmanin. Photo credit: Alexander Kurmanin.
Digital fashion also combats fast fashion, as it allows users to post pictures of new clothes, without adding anything to their closets. “It can be worn for social media content creation. It can be worn for a meeting on Zoom. It can be used in marketing promotions,” says Kurmanin.
Even more helpful than online-only clothing, is the real-life application of these virtual designs. “The main problem of the fashion industry is the over expenditure of the planet's resources,” Kurmanin says. “With digital fashion, clothing manufacturers can now skip five samples before sewing a large batch of clothing. This is millions of items per year.”
Kurmanin is far from the only person creating digital fashion. Websites like DressX, Replicant and XR Couture sell clothing from dozens of digital designers.