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Startup of the Month: The Fabricant, Co-creating Metaverse Fashion

Co-creating digital fashion for the metaverse with designers and brands.

The Fabricant metaverse fashion

Metaverse fashion is on track to become a $55 Billion USD industry by 2030 according to research from Deloitte. As our social media personas ferociously feed the cycle of fast fashion, the case for digital fashion is growing stronger. The ability to outfit virtual avatars with digital clothes — a popular feature in digital worlds like Second Life, which has 64.7 million active users on its platform — has existed on the internet for decades. Now, with Web3 promising to merge our digital lives with in-person and multi-platform experiences, many established fashion brands are experimenting with how to sell digital clothes to the metaverse consumer. This is where decentralized digital fashion house The Fabricant enters the chat.

Making waves internationally back in May 2019 when The Fabricant’s “Iridescence” dress was auctioned as the first digital couture garment on blockchain, selling for $9,500, the digital couture startup has continued to position itself as a leader in the sector of 3D virtual fashion. Having collaborated with major brands like Timberland and Adidas, The Fabricant Studio is the startup’s platform for co-creating digital fashion with designers and brands. Fashion League spoke with The Fabricant to learn more about how the company plans to build the wardrobe of the metaverse.

Startup: The Fabricant

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Founded: 2018

Special Sauce: 3D animation software, body scanning, and motion capture

Raised: $14 million

Investors: Ashton Kutcher, Red DAO, and more

The Fabricant metaverse fashion
The Fabricant X @ruby9100m digital fashion NFT.

FASHION LEAGUE: Can you introduce yourself and your company, and how you started working on digital fashion?

THE FABRICANT: I’m Michaela Larosse and I’m the Head of Content & Strategy at The Fabricant, which was founded in 2018 as the world’s first digital-only fashion house creating digital couture for blockchain-based environments (the metaverse, in other words). I’ve been part of the team since it was founded and am the creator of its brand narrative, and also lead its communications team. In the early days, no one had heard of what we were doing as of course nothing like it had existed before, so it was something of a battle introducing the wider fashion industry to the concept of our work. The mindset was very traditional and resistant to innovation, so the idea that clothing could be non-physical and created using 3D technology was an absolute no-no as far as most were concerned. These days there’s more acceptance as digital fashion has gained wider prominence, but fashion is still very slow to evolve.

FASHION LEAGUE: What are some common misconceptions consumers have when it comes to digital clothes?

THE FABRICANT: A question that comes up fairly frequently is — how can people wear our creations? All our pieces are created and traded in virtual worlds, so your avatar can wear one of our garments in a blockchain-based game like The Sandbox, for example. You can also wear our digital garments via AR filters, the technology that most people will be familiar with. You can select a filter of one of our garments or accessories and see yourself or someone else wearing them via your mobile device.

FASHION LEAGUE: Can you explain how digital fashion is more sustainable than traditional clothes? Especially any insight on energy consumption.

THE FABRICANT: Fashion is one of the most polluting and unsustainable industries on the planet, so a radical intervention is long overdue in terms of how it operates—digital fashion and the use of technology gives us the ability to do that. Creativity and access to self-expression through fashion is important, but it shouldn't come at such a huge cost to our environment.

We wanted to add science to this as it’s always better to be armed with facts than presumption, so we teamed up with Imperial College London to take a deep dive into the topic. The report they created compares the lifecycle of a physical t-shirt to that of a digital t-shirt, comparing all the energy and pollution associated with each. It found that a digital-only garment has a 97% reduction in its impact on the planet compared to a physical garment. The full report can be accessed on The Fabricant’s website.

FASHION LEAGUE: Was it challenging getting brand partners on board? What was the most challenging part of securing brand partnerships?

THE FABRICANT: We’ve worked with brands since we were founded, so from our perspective, it hasn’t been a challenge. Though the heritage fashion world is unfamiliar with blockchain-based technology and environments associated with what we do, so there’s certainly a hesitancy to participate. Fashion is the last creative industry to digitize; if you think of music, film, and photography — they all have strongly established digital cultures. Fashion will get there eventually, but it needs to catch up rapidly as it risks becoming irrelevant to young audiences who have digital expression as part of their daily expectation.

FASHION LEAGUE: Does The Fabricant have any exciting projects coming up that you are looking forward to?

THE FABRICANT: Our collaboration with World of Women, the biggest women-led NFT project in the world, lands in our digital fashion co-creation environment The Fabricant Studio on the 29th of June. Our fashion team created a spectacular collection of 27 digital fashion garments inspired by the characters from the World of Women project. Our community can customize the pieces with digital fabrics to create their own unique versions, which they can mint as NFTs that they can collect, trade, or wear in virtual spaces.

FASHION LEAGUE: What are some essential ingredients for launching a successful startup?

THE FABRICANT: Passion, resilience, and persistent hard work. There are no shortcuts, unfortunately.

FASHION LEAGUE: What is your advice for anyone who may be looking to launch their big idea?

THE FABRICANT: Do your due diligence. In what way will your idea add value or evolve the current offering in the sector your wish to enter? Who is your audience? Why do they need what you do? Do you have a business model that is feasible? How will you make it happen with the resources that you have?

If you can answer these, then go for it. Believe in yourself and keep pushing. And don’t be afraid to fail, but fail fast. It’s better to recognize it early than drain yourself trying to get something unworkable off the ground. You can then move on to your next great idea much quicker!

What do you think of The Fabricant's digital fashion offerings and its case for sustainability? Leave a comment below. Follow Fashion League on Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter for Faux or Fashion™ trivia, and the latest job postings from some of your favorite companies.

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