Digital Fashion as the Future of Fashion Industry. How Do the Czech Members of Selam X Studio See It?

For Redbull, 04/2020. Together with Marek Bulíř.
Czech version here.

Why did you decide to work in the field of digital fashion?

David: We mostly work digitally in our studio, using 3D graphics and animation. We always used to work for many clients from the fashion field so it was a logical step to connect these know-hows and start with digital fashion and the gaming industry.

Marek: Yeah, it's growing organicly into something big and we want to be part of it.

© Selam X – Andrea Avellino, Florian Siegmann

What are the main trends of this rising industry?

Marek: The point is, that you have no limitation. Only limit is your imagination. You have power to create a completely new dimension with its own rules, to present clothes on weird and crazy characters etc.... Clothes with video as a texture, changing shape every minute? Why not? So I think the main trend now is to find the limit (is there even?) and to try things that nobody did before.

David: The fashion brands are finding out that visualising garments digitally and using them in campaigns saves costs and is more efficient than traditional photoshoots – when you model some garment, you can use it again and again and adjust the scene exactly to your needs. You can see how digital fashion is getting more attention during the corona crisis when no photoshoots are possible and almost only online stores are open. Also there are digital fashion shows starting – since the goal of fashion shows is often to show the vision and impress esthetically, if you go digital, you can go crazy as never before and fuck the physical rules completely.

Soon we will also see using digital garments in a way we now use face filters – you don't need to try the clothes, you will see how it fits you directly on the screen of your mobile, and this will be realtime, reacting to how you are moving. We did something like this for Adidas and 032C last year already – we created a digital mirror where you can see yourself wearing the clothes you choose at the moment. Also you can slowly see digital garments getting as assets in the games. Gaming industry is a huge market now.

What I really hope for, digital fashion can turn the fashion industry to become more friendly to our planet. Just imagine how much water is needed to make jeans for example. Many people buy too many clothes, wear them only several times and then throw them out. But then they don't need to buy them physically – just a digital version of the garment which allows you to take a picture on Instagram will be enough.

© Selam X – Andrea Avellino, Florian Siegmann

I saw you did a project with Kylie Jenner. What was it about?

David: Selam X and New York based studio ART 404 created a gan – kind of artificial intelligence algorithm. This algorithm got the name beauty_GAN. The team has fed the algorithm with 17.000 most liked portrait images from Instagram. beauty_GAN was supposed to analyze these pictures and trained himself in order to recognize what is beautiful and also got an ability to generate the new visual material which was supposed to be beautiful. Nice aspect of artificial intelligence is that it can generate truly unexpected results, very different from those we could ever think about. Then Daniel Sannwald took pictures of Kylie Jenner, almost without makeup. We put those pictures into beauty_GAN and the algorithm was supposed to make them more beautiful, based on the dataset he has been trained on. So beauty_GAN painted a kind of makeup for Kylie, using some new esthetics. The result – a mix of what millions of people think is beautiful, and what a machine thinks is beautiful – is from my point of view a really visually refreshing thing.

I am really curious about digital clothing. Does it make sense for ordinary people? I see Gen Z and younger audience can benefit from it.

David: There is always the question how the new technology is gonna influence our lives, and also some fear connected to it, which is understandable. Digital fashion will probably not distract people from spending more and more time in virtual worlds, but hopefully many people can appreciate trying clothes virtually and using time in a better way than standing in a queue to the fitting room in a store. If we are speaking about digital fashion in games – the gamers are not just gen z – it's a very wide spectrum of people in terms of age. And the same with social networks. But of course, the society is so diverse that some people might spend their lives in a completely analog way when it goes about fashion.

© Beauty_Gan team: Selam X & ART 404. Photo Daniel Sannwald

Is it growing rapidly? Lot of Instagram profiles try to engage with people like that.

Marek: Of course! It's hot, even the big companies are joining the game, because they see the potential and the unlimited possibilities. Plus it looks attractive.

David: Definitely. On Instagram you even got fully virtual models like Lil Miquela, wearing purely digital garments.

Which role does your agency play in this field? You can tell me your current digital fashion projects.

David: Usually we are helping our clients to transform their collection into digital form, and create campaigns using this digital form. Right now we are working on an editorial for Version magazine – it's really fun to work on it – the idea is to take the existing digital models and upcycle them into something new. We are also building our own Selam X merch collection which we want to present digitally in our eshop, using really crazy characters like a skeleton or plastic flower. Marek and the others are building special Selam X avatars to present our facefilters. Also there is a digital jewellery field which is not far away – we are currently cooperating witha jewellerist Franziska Vogt and her label yccij and transforming her collection into 3D.

© Selam X – Marek Bulíř

I see you guys love AR filters masks. What's different between your masks and filters that Instagram (Facebook) has?

David: We are trying to create aesthetically interesting facefilters which can push our perception of beauty to somewhere where it has never been yet. While creating facefilters, also the element of fun is important – it's very diverse since more people from our team create facefilters and the approach of each of them is different. The studio is also creating facefilters for clients and organizing meetings of facefilter creators, which has created a community of people interested in augmented reality.

© Selam X – facefilter Giusy Amoroso, photo Kitty Schumacher

Is the future of digital fashion bright?

David: Most probably digital fashion will become a normal element in our lives as it is now video calls or e-banking. We at Selam believe that it can change the fashion industry in a way that will be good for people and the environment.

Marek: I think that presenting clothes virtually or choosing them virtually will become standard. With growing artificial intelligence I can imagine algorithms designing clothes according to the newest trends or demands. We already saw cloth that changes colour with temperature change or with light intensity etc. It makes me think about transferring the idea of “skins” from games into the real world. So you wouldn't buy new clothes but just skins.