Fully digital clothing is a futuristic Instagram trend, and I don't really get it

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As we move towards an all-digital future, many are moving towards more volatile markets of ownership. Physical purchases of games and movies are all-but-abandoned; people are buying JPEGs for millions instead of physical canvases. Almost like a culmination of the increasing digital reliance, here comes fully digital clothing.

What is fully digital clothing?

Fully digital clothing is exactly what it sounds like. Targeted towards Instagram influencers in the same way as faux private jet sets, fake clothing is designed to replicate a feeling of extravagance. The outfits appear well made, some appear fashionable and, most importantly, they're hard to get... because they aren’t real.

Developed by companies such as DressX and Scandinavian clothing brand Carlings, the method for using digital clothes is still rudimentary. In the future, the clothing items could be projected onto people with mixed reality smart glasses inside a Metaverse. However, for now, they rely on good ol’ Adobe.

On DressX, users purchase pieces of clothing for anything from $20 to $1,400 for designer items. Well, actually, you're paying that amount for someone at the company to Photoshop that clothing item onto a picture of you. A single picture; every purchase of a piece of clothing buys you one photo edit.

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At over $1,000, the point of digital clothes kinda falls apart.

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Why are people doing this?

Trying on different outfits is a fun past-time for millions of people, and DressX sort of replicates that. For some of the cheaper items on the website, it could be fun to dress up digitally. Additionally, a lot of the service’s wackier clothing items are so bizarre in a celebrity-with-more-money-than-sense way that it could be a hilarious experience.

A lot of clothing items on the website have bright fish-scales or massive wings. Items such as the Lava Catsuit break the barriers of reality by surrounding you with poorly rendered 3D blobs. Finally,  you might just want someone to Photoshop your friend into a clown dress.

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Does fully digital clothing look realistic?

For the most part, no. Outside of professional advertisement renders, fully digital clothing looks remarkably though. For starters, lighting on the photoshopped outfits rarely matches the environment perfectly, and DressX’s Photoshop jobs don't apply self-shadowing onto the clothes.

That's without mentioning the material work on most of the outfits. Latex or plastic style clothing has a Spy Kids 3D look to it. It's too bright, shiny, and the renders never quite match the materials they're trying to replicate.

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Even after multiple rounds of image compression, the outfits still don't quite look right.

It all looks fake, but maybe that's part of the charm for some. With Instagram compression, it does help. It'll never look real in its current state, but it's decent enough to trick quick scrollers into thinking it might be real. However, it'll never, ever, be worth $1,400. If you're thinking of buying into the more expensive items, just buy real clothes.

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