Tatler House Stories: A Panel Discussion on the Future of Digital Fashion in Asia
When? June 21, 2022
Where? The Sky Lounge at The Upper House
Who? Richard Hobbs, Queenie Mak, Angus Tsui and Nick Lau
Here’s what you missed:
On June 21, Tatler’s editor-in-chief Jacqueline Tsang spoke to experts for the summer edition of House Stories at The Upper House’s Sky Lounge. The panel included Richard Hobbs, founder of Brand New Vision (BNV); Angus Tsui, the fashion designer behind his eponymous label; Nick Lau, founder of NFT fashion company Wear; and Louis Vuitton’s communications director, Queenie Mak.
Lau, whose next-gen luxury Web3 platform Wear bridges physical and digital experiences and collaborates with creators on metaverse-compatible digital assets, found his way into digital fashion out of necessity. “I got into it during my last year at Parsons [School of Design]. I studied traditional fashion design, but I hated sewing and couldn’t do garment construction, so digital fashion made a lot of sense for me. It was a new way of designing,” he said.
Digital fashion is gaining traction quickly. Tsui, whose sustainable designs are known for their futuristic, avant-garde and otherworldly silhouettes, said the medium is just a new tool to be creative. “People now say that screenwear is the new streetwear and, obviously, what we wear says a lot about who we are. The idea of phygital [digital and physical] fashion allows us to change our definition of what is real. It’s not actually a new concept—for years, gamers have spent millions of dollars on clothes to dress their avatars.”
Luxury brands and the industry at large are taking notice. Hobbs’ firm BNV explores the use of technology in the traditional fashion product cycle and, in 2019, the business began focusing on 3D virtual products secured on the Ethereum blockchain, acting as a gateway for brands and designers into the metaverse. Now, Hobbs can’t imagine going back to more traditional forms of fashion.
“The combination of 3D products, the blockchain, and not having to physically make anything was really compelling to me. I’ve spent most of my life running around factories, and I don’t want to do that again,” he said, speaking of the freedom enabled by the metaverse. “You can completely disregard cost of material, gravity and physics and do a lot more with digital fashion than in real-world fashion,” he said. However, Hobbs also stressed the enduring importance of hiring skilled designers and tailors to maintain quality standards. “Draping, cutting and knowledge of colour are crucial. You can’t throw that away because its digital fashion,” he added.
Other topics discussed included the evolution of the fashion ecosystem, sustainability in the metaverse, protecting intellectual property rights, the importance of community and collaboration in the metaverse, and where the industry will be in five years.
Mak, who has spent the last 20 years at the forefront of luxury communications working with brands such as Givenchy, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, ended the evening with one final nugget of wisdom: “Most luxury brands are trying to enter the metaverse in a way that makes sense to their brand DNA. However they choose to get involved, they should try to avoid replicating the physical world in the digital world. That’s the beauty of Web3: there are no rules. Innovation needs to be embraced.”
- PhotographyAnna Koustas