This week, Gucci dropped a pair of shoes that only exist in a virtual sense. However, it’s a fashion fad that is taking off.
Proving that fashion truly makes no sense, Italian fashion demigods Gucci have released a new line of shoes that don’t actually exist.
As The New York Daily News noted, “Designed by the luxury brand’s creative director Alessandro Michele in collaboration with Wanna, a Belarusian fashion-tech studio, the Gucci Virtual 25 only exists in the virtual world. The futuristic-looking bright neon green shoe has accents of magenta and sky blue, with splashes of red, canary yellow, and emerald green.”
Crucially, the customer cannot actually wear them. Indeed, a fashion magazine sardonically reviewed the shoes as “essentially a photo filter that superimposes the sneaker onto the user’s feet.”
At least these shoes (which don’t function as shoes, or exist in the real world) are sensibly priced. A pair of these kicks will set you back $12. This seems logical for the aspirational fashionista, where you could say that you own part of the Gucci catalogue, provided you don’t explain exactly what.
However, let’s not exclusively blame Gucci for this fetid trend, as the concept of ‘virtual fashion’ is (mystifyingly) growing in popularity.
Amber Jae Slooten, co-founder of Virtual Fashion house, The Fabricant spoke to Deezen in late 2020 to unpack the fad, suggesting that virtual fashion allows users to live out their fashion fantasies.
“How do we want to represent ourselves within the virtual space?” she asked. “If we can be anything, will we still want to be ourselves?”
As Deezen explained, the items are “created painstakingly with 3D modelling software, the bespoke items are designed to drape and move as if they were real. Customers’ avatars can ‘wear’ the items on social media platforms, gaming environments and virtual worlds.”
“We create clothes that only exist in a digital space and never exist in the physical world,” Slooten explained, adding that virtual fashion allows consumers to avoid the waste and pollution associated with traditional fashion.
“We try to create a new fashion narrative for the 21st century because we really believe that we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and see if our vanity really needs to harm the planet in this way.”
In April, the studio launched the beta version of a new platform called Leela, which allows people to download a range of ready-to-wear items for their online personas.
“There were about 10,000 people that actually use the app to wear these clothes, which to us was completely crazy,” said Slooten. “People were able to create their own avatars and wear our clothes for the first time.”